A new program has been launched to strengthen the disaster preparedness of small businesses. Called the Big Business – Small Business Emergency Management Mentorship Program, this initiative aims to engage big businesses in leadership and mentorship roles to ensure that small businesses have workable emergency and disaster plans firmly in place.

This program was developed in response to alarming statistics by the Institute of Business and Home Safety: that around 25 percent of small businesses don’t reopen for business following a major disaster. In fact, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that this number rises to 43 percent when there is no formal or established emergency plan in place. The main objective of this mentorship program is to connect big corporations with small businesses that are either preparing for or working to recover from an emergency event such as a hurricane, flood, power outage, or other natural or man-made disaster. Participation in the program is voluntary and open to all small businesses and corporations alike.

This mentorship program is expected to lend important support for small businesses in all phases of disaster preparation and recovery, as well as in developing business continuity and facilitating an environment for business growth. It’s also projected to benefit big businesses and the community at large in terms of strengthening supply chains, improving community resiliency, promoting best practices industry-wide, and fostering mutually beneficial business relationships. In addition to sharing tools and mentoring disaster management strategies, corporations are also encouraged to reinforce small business resiliency in other ways. For instance, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club have already held Small Business Hurricane and Disaster Preparedness Expos.

The Small Business Emergency Management Mentorship Program stems from a partnership between the National Incident Management Systems and Advanced Technologies (NIMSAT) institute at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the U.S. Council of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM-USA). Current program partners and sponsors also include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Sam’s Club. Companies that have registered as mentors include the Walt Disney Company, Verizon, Lowe’s Companies Inc., and LEAM Drilling Systems Inc.


PR Newswire (United Business Media). “Big Business – Small Business Mentorship Program Launches for Enhanced Disaster Resiliency.” The Wall Street Journal (MarketWatch). 6/1/12. (6/4/12.) http://www.marketwatch.com/story/big-business-small-business-mentorship-program-launches-for-enhanced-disaster-resiliency-2012-06-01.

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