Summary of Work
TEI was contracted to create web-based processes for giving business owners direct access to programs and incentives offered by Louisiana Economic Development. Beginning with the SmallBiz Suite of systems, our analysts and software developers recognized that LED managers needed powerful tools to interact quickly and directly with businesses and intermediaries. For larger businesses and heavy industry, a comprehensive incentive management system (now known as FastLane) was necessary to manage the complete lifecycle of incentives from initial application through compliance and project completion reports.
SmallBiz is a web-based application that organizes small business certification, technical assistance, and tracking programs into one cohesive system. Applying for certification to Small and Emerging Business Development (SEBD) programs, Hudson and Veterans Initiatives can be completed without the hassle of paper forms. System components were also developed, addressing post-certification technical assistance for intermediaries participating in the SEBD program. In 2014, TEI converted the SmallBiz system into ASP.NET and restructured the database to be company-centric while incorporating a wish list of enhancements. In 2017, TEI updated the public searching component for Certified Businesses by adding the ability to search the commodity codes for each project and allowing the search results to be exported for further review. And most recently in 2019, TEI worked with LED to move the SmallBiz system to cloud-based servers to increase system speed and allow for future growth.
FastLane was designed to help shorten the process of getting assistance through an easy-to-use web interface. The system streamlines the application process by integrating LED’s incentive program rules into the application interface and calculates jobs, investments, and fees more accurately than legacy paper processes.
Some popular features built into the system include payment of fees with credit cards or e-checks, availability of reports, ability to generate contracts, renewals, and other critical documents.
In 2017, TEI began collecting requirements and developing prototype interfaces for a full system renovation. In July 2018, the first phase Fastlane Next Generation went live as a fully web-based system with a modern .NET platform, for applicants, internal LED users, and other state and local agencies. The fully redesigned user interface incorporates the following features:
- Centralized Relational Database
- Incentive Application and Form Management
- Status tracking for forms, payments, external processing, and contract processing
- Interoperability with local and state agencies
- Electronic signature process
- Correspondence management
- Email notifications
- Historical Record and Audit Capabilities
- User Profile Management
- Online Query Tool for the Public
- User Security Management
- Robust Reporting Abilities
The first phase of Fastlane Next Generation incorporated the migration of the four main Business Incentive programs: Enterprise Zone, Industrial Tax Exemption, Quality Jobs, and Restoration Tax Abatement. In the summer of 2019, TEI deployed phase two of the project which incorporated and migrated the Motion Picture Tax Credit (FILM) Program and Digital Interactive Media and Software Tax Credit (DM) Program.
In preparation for FastLane Next Generation, TEI worked to learn Adobe’s electronic signature software, Adobe Sign. By becoming knowledgeable about the software user interface and API, TEI was able to incorporate the use of an electronic signature processes into the FastLane system and enable a quicker turnaround for the signature of incentive contracts and compliance documentation. Prior to incorporation into FastLane Next Generation, TEI worked with LED FastStart® to convert their contract process to a paperless workflow using the Adobe Software.
TEI has also provided specialized support to LED’s special programs for small business to provide interactive spreadsheets for the Bonding Assistance and CEO Roundtable Programs. TEI was able to provide a specific, non-programmatic, and easy-to-use Excel-based approach, to solving the needs of the Small Business department.