Florida SBDC Network Urges Businesses to Prepare for Hurricane Irma

Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, urges business owners to prepare for Hurricane Irma, an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm that has caused widespread destruction across the Caribbean.

As a principal responder in the state’s Emergency Support Function (ESF) 18 for Business & Industry, the Florida SBDC Network is a key economic development organization that supports disaster preparedness, recovery and mitigation through its Business Continuation services.

As the storm approaches, the Florida SBDC reminds business owners to make necessary last-minute preparations for the storm’s impact on business operations and employees. While Florida SBDCs in impacted areas will be closed until it is safe to return, the network encourages businesses to ensure they have a business ready records-to-go box that includes important documents and supplies necessary to continue business operations following the storm, including:

  • Business continuity, emergency preparedness and disaster recovery plan
  • Emergency contact list of employees and key customers
  • Insurance policies and agent information
  • List of suppliers and vendors
  • Back-up computer systems and data files
  • Bank records

The network also encourages businesses to be aware that local authorities will require employees seeking re-entry to impacted areas to provide a driver’s license or passport, proof of employment or a letter on company letterhead, and proof of a demonstrated need to enter the area, such as a work order or employer authorization. For more information, please click here.

Business Disaster Resources: Before the Storm

  • For a checklist from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to prepare your business before, during, and after a hurricane, please click here.
  • The Florida SBDC at Florida International University (FIU), a member of the Florida SBDC Network, has prepared a short 25-minute webinar with business preparedness tips. To view the video, please click here.
  • The Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center (FL-VBEOC) has been activated to a Level 1, a full-scale, 24-hour activation. The FL-VBEOC provides businesses with valuable preparedness information. For a list of preparedness tips before the storm and to register your business, please click here.
  • The State of Florida has activated the Private Sector Hotline at 850-815-4925 for business inquires about the storm, preparedness information, and post-impact information.

For a complete list of business preparedness tips, please click here.

Business Disaster Resources: Help Following the Storm

Following Hurricane Irma, Florida SBDC business consultants, many of whom are Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) Certified Business Continuity Professionals, will be available to help affected businesses prepare disaster loan applications, including the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan, and with other post-disaster challenges.

Depending on the severity of impact, the Governor will activate the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan. Administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity in collaboration with Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (FFCFC) and the Florida SBDC Network, the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan provides short-term, interest-free working capital loans to help impacted businesses “bridge the gap” between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured long-term recovery resources, such as insurance claims or federal assistance. Visit www.FloridaDisasterLoan.org for full details.

Florida SBDC Network Mobile Assistance Centers (MACs) are deployed during a disaster to provide on-the-scene assistance.

Also depending on the scope of impact, the network will deploy its Mobile Assistance Centers (MAC)—38-foot RVs equipped with laptops, printers, satellite communication, and more—into communities for affected businesses to receive on-site assistance.

“We are saddened to see and hear the stories of damage and loss that individuals and small businesses have suffered due to Hurricane Irma,” said Michael Myhre, CEO and Network State Director for the Florida SBDC Network. “We want business owners to know that we will be here to help walk them through the recovery process to ensure they get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

For more information about the Florida SBDC’s business continuity and disaster recovery services, please click here.