Houston looks to get back to business as usual by the end of the week

From a press release:

    The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau has been working closely with the George R. Brown Convention Center to continue to accommodate conventions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. While the GRBCC in downtown Houston is currently hosting 1,100 Hurricane Katrina evacuees, the facility continues to be fully-functional, as are all area hotels. GRBCC representatives anticipate resuming all normal business operations on September 17 in preparation for the Texas Association of School Administrators/Texas Association of School Board (TASA/TASB) Annual Conference scheduled to begin that week.

    Two exhibit halls, measuring 127,000 and 130,000 square-feet, once lined wall-to-wall with donations and one of several residence areas, have already been cleared out and will host the TASA/TASB Annual Conference.

    When Mayor Bill White announced on Friday, Aug. 30 the GRBCC would house evacuees, the GHCVB worked quickly to secure a new venue for La Cumbre, a major Latin American travel conference booked at the GRBCC, at Minute Maid Park. The conference began three days later. The nontraditional venue provided an exciting tradeshow environment, and the show was deemed a success by all parties involved, including the 1,200 delegates from around the world.

    "The world has witnessed Houston's entrepreneurial spirit and can-do attitude these past few weeks," said Gerard J. "Jordy" Tollett, president and CEO of the GHCVB. "The Astrodome and the GRBCC were both converted into shelters in less than 24 hours. We relocated and replanned a convention from the ground up in three days. We're also doing what we can to take care of conventions originally scheduled to take place in New Orleans."

    Most Houston conventions have not been affected by Hurricane Katrina, although a few taking place in September have been rescheduled or postponed. The Turbomachinery Symposium, with 4,400 delegates and an economic impact of more than $4 million, has been rescheduled for Dec. 12-15 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The U.S. Arab Economic Forum, scheduled for Sept. 14-16, has been postponed.

    Hurricane evacuees are ready to move on as workers from the city, state, convention center and volunteers have helped more than 24,000 of GRBCC registered evacuees find resources. During the next 10 days GRBCC will begin to condense hurricane relief operations.

    Since evacuees moved into the facility on Aug. 30, management and staff have been running operations much like it would for any other client. GRBCC organizes daily food and beverage distribution, writes and issues a daily newsletter updating clients, makes hourly announcements on the public address system, coordinates with third party resources like HISD or the Red Cross and runs constant updates on the LCD screens throughout the GRBCC.

    GRBCC workers will ensure that each currently registered evacuee is properly placed and receives physical and financial support prior to September 17.

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