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CONTACT: Kathleen Thames
(337) 482-6397, kat@louisiana.edu
June 4, 2012
About 25 percent of all businesses do not reopen after a major disaster, according to the Institute of Business and Home Safety. That number rises sharply to 43 percent when a business does not have a formal emergency plan in place, studies show. 

A new program is intended to improve the odds of small businesses surviving. It will match small businesses with big business mentors who can help them prepare for and withstand a disaster.

It is the result of a partnership formed between the National Incident Management Systems and Advanced Technologies Institute at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the U.S. Council of the International Association of Emergency Managers. The program was inspired by a FEMA campaign announced in January that is aimed at increasing outreach and educational opportunities to small businesses in the emergency management arena.

Participation in the Big Business – Small Business Emergency Management Mentorship program is voluntary and open to all businesses. Some large companies, such as the Walt Disney Company, Verizon, Lowe’s Companies Inc., LEAM Drilling Systems Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Sam’s Club, have already signed up.

Big Business gains by:
•  strengthening the supply chain and community resiliency;
•  positive branding and reputation management;
•  sharing valuable lessons learned and best practices within the industry; and
•  developing mutually beneficial business relationships.

Small Business wins by:
•  learning about business continuity and resiliency from industry leaders with a proven track record:
•  fostering an environment for business growth;
•  developing the tools to recover from disasters; and
•  building valuable relationships with big businesses.

Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, executive director of the NIMSAT Institute, said the program gives small businesses an opportunity to “learn from and emulate their aspirational role models – successful big businesses, who actually have the experience of having walked the talk.”

The NIMSAT Institute has led several innovative efforts in public-private partnerships, he said. The Big Business – Small Business Emergency Management Mentorship enables the institute to work with partnerships formed by private businesses. Program partners and sponsors include the NIMSAT Institute, IAEM-USA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Sam’s Club.

The NIMSAT Institute will lead and administer the program, with participation from IAEM-USA as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Sam’s Club have already been proactive in advancing small business resiliency through their Small Business Hurricane and Disaster Preparedness Expos.

IAEM is pleased to be part this initiative by the NIMSAT Institute that focuses on building valuable relationships to improve community resiliency,” said Julie Kachgal, IAEM-USA Public-Private Partnership Caucus chair. “Big businesses are well versed in emergency management; mentoring small businesses that do not have an emergency specialist on staff, is simply the right thing to do. Connecting small businesses with big businesses willing to offer guidance is a simple and genius concept that has the power to make a difference in each community.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation. It represents more than three million businesses, state and local chambers, and industry associations.
Ann Beauchesne is vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Security and Emergency Preparedness Department. “We believe this program will have a great impact on businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, and are pleased to support the NIMSAT Institute in this program,” she said.

Mentors or protégés can register in less than five minutes at www.DisasterB2bMentor.org. A Mentorship Guide on that website.

The NIMSAT Institute is a homeland security and emergency management institute. It enhances national resiliency to all-hazards by conducting research that leads to innovative tools and advanced technologies that empower emergency managers through education, training, outreach and operational support. It leads the Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center under the direction of Louisiana Economic Development and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.  For more information, go to www.nimsat.org.

IAEM-USA is the nation’s largest association of emergency management professionals. It has more than 5,000 members, including emergency managers at the state and local government levels, tribal nations, the military, colleges and universities, private business and the nonprofit sector. Most members are city and county emergency managers who perform the crucial function of coordinating and integrating efforts related to all types of disasters, including terrorist attacks.

Document last revised Monday, June 4, 2012 3:20 PM

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