SBDC at FIU prepares Miami businesses for hurricane season


As the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season got underway June 1, South Floridians kicked off a flurry of shopping activity to prepare their homes and businesses for what may arise. The College of Business’ SBDC at FIU is contributing to those efforts with a series of disaster preparedness workshops for Miami-Dade County businesses.

The goal: to increase the survival rate of local businesses.

“Whether it is a big disaster such as a hurricane or smaller interruption like road construction, disasters can and will occur,” said Brian Van Hook, associate director of the SBDC at FIU.

A dozen business owners gathered June 3 at the City of Miami Beach Emergency Operations Center to receive training on developing a business continuity plan; conducting disaster exercises with their employees; accessing business disaster assistance through the State of Florida or the Federal government; and the credentials necessary to return to the disaster area.


“Our focus in Emergency Management is on a whole community approach to disaster preparedness, response and mitigation,” said Shari Lipner, emergency management specialist with the City of Miami Beach Department of Emergency Management. “We are developing partnerships with local businesses in that endeavor, and we look forward to collaborating with FIU and the SBDC as we build a more resilient community.”

The SBDC at FIU presents the workshops in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Beacon Council, and the Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management. Five have been held since April, drawing 60-plus local businesses.

A footprint for recovery.

A study conducted by the Institute for Business and Home Safety revealed that disasters can cost businesses approximately $3,000 per day. Additionally, an Ad Council survey indicated that nearly 62 percent of businesses surveyed do not have an emergency plan in place.

While a large company may see little impact, such costs could signal the end of a small business, explained Van Hook, who led the workshops.

“Disaster preparedness makes good business sense but it can actually give your business a competitive advantage as well,” said Van Hook, who worked with businesses following Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill and Hurricane Sandy, among others. “We focus on working with these attendees to build a resilient business.”

The SBDC at FIU was recently appointed by Miami-Dade County as one of the Emergency Support Function 18 representatives in the County Emergency Operations Center. Focused on economic stabilization, ESF-18 representatives work with local businesses and industries pre- and post-disaster to coordinate the delivery of programs and resources to the private sector to promote recovery.

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