Shortly after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, officials at the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau got a call from a meeting planner who was about to bring a group to Shreveport. The planner was concerned that the city was under water.

But the hurricane didn't hit Shreveport, located in the Northwest corner of Louisiana. In fact, the sun was out the day it hit, says Jessica Hawkins, advertising and publications manager, SBCTB.

Since then, the bureau has been working hard to let the public know that Shreveport-Bossier City, as well as the rest of the state outside of New Orleans, is open for business. “One of the major ways that people can help the state of Louisiana is by keeping our economic engine running,” says Hawkins. Shreveport, which has taken in more than 20,000 evacuees from New Orleans, has gotten several calls the last few weeks from groups looking to help by bringing their meetings to the state.

Through it all, Shreveport is preparing for the grand opening of a new, 350,000-square-foot convention center in January 2006.