Katy Area EDC Launches Data Tool to Provide Free Updates About Open Businesses Amid COVID-19

Thursday, April 30, 2020

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The Katy Area Economic Development Council has launched ZoomBusiness, an online tool that enables local businesses across the region to communicate with customers for free in real time. ZoomBusiness, created by GIS Planning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is an interactive, mobile-responsive mapping directory for communities that ensures customers can find open restaurants, stores and services in their region at no charge.

Businesses can list themselves for free on the Katy Area EDC ZoomBusiness site to help residents find the businesses and services they need. The businesses can provide customized details including websites, modified hours, delivery or curbside pickup options, promotions and gift card stimulus programs. Residents can search for area businesses by categories, including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, health facilities, hardware stores, pet stores and automotive shops, among others.

Katy area companies which have entered or do enter business information in the ZoomBusinesses tool will be entered in a drawing for gift cards to local businesses.

The site is a simple-to-use data tool, powered by Google Maps, using various “layers” for precise queries. Businesses are prompted to directly enter information on their current status and the content is verified by the organization hosting the GIS tool. GIS Planning also added free map layers, including a COVID-19 case map updated daily by the New York Times, and a job-loss vulnerability index using recent employment data from Chmura.

Local ZoomBusiness sites have already been deployed in over 30 communities across North America during since the new online GIS mapping tool launched April 22nd, including regions of eastern Pennsylvania, Columbia, S.C., the state of Wyoming (which has listed more than 600 businesses on the directory) and Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Currently, the tool features over 300 businesses, helping residents discover delivery and curbside food options.

“As an organization, our goal is to serve and better the Katy area community,” said Katy Area EDC President/CEO. “During this unprecedented time, the need for accurate data is critical. Through our partnership with GIS Planning, we are able to offer these resources free of charge. We look forward to a return to normalcy but in the meantime, we remain committed to helping our community however possible.”

Katy Area EDC will continue to support local businesses in other ways, but there is nothing better than bringing residents back to the restaurants, shops and services that make their community so distinctive.

“Main street businesses are truly the lifeblood of a community,” says Alissa Sklar, vice president of marketing for GIS Planning. “According to FEMA, up to 40% of small businesses never reopen after a major disaster. With ZoomBusiness, we want to help make sure the local restaurants, retailers and service providers that define local communities are still there to serve area residents when this pandemic is over.”

GIS Planning has made its ZoomBusiness tool free for its existing economic development clients (those using its investment attraction map, “ZoomProspector”) and it is also available to new clients for a nominal fee. Prices are indexed to population size to keep them affordable for all communities. New clients can also be set up and ready to launch the tool within one day.

Following the COVID-19 recovery, data experts at GIS Planning forecast continued use of the directory to promote small and medium-sized businesses across North America.

Click here to access the Katy Area EDC ZoomBusiness tool.

For more information about ZoomBusiness, visit: www.gisplanning.com/products/zoombusiness/overview.

About the Katy Area EDC
Founded in 2003, the Katy Area Economic Development Council’s (Katy Area EDC) mission is to lead the economic development efforts of the Katy area to recruit, retain and expand new high quality, high impact companies, jobs and talent to improve the quality of life and place of Katy area residents. Since its inception, Katy Area EDC has assisted in the creation of thousands of jobs and billions in capital investment. Katy Area EDC is a full-service private, non-profit, 501 (c) 6 economic development corporation.

About GIS Planning
GIS Planning, a service of the Financial Times, is the world leader in online economic development solutions for corporate site selection. Its suite of tools provides real estate, demographic, labor force and industry data to help investors select optimal geographic locations through powerful online mapping analysis. GIS Planning’s software as a service helps regions create jobs, nurture existing companies and grow their economies through business investment. GIS Planning tools currently serve six out of 10 Americans in 45 states, including 28 statewide economic development organizations, Canada, Switzerland, several counties in the U.K., Murcia (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Dusseldorf (Germany), Gothenburg (Sweden), Kyiv (Ukraine) and more. For more information visit: www.gisplanning.com.

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