Florida SBDC Network Urges Preparation for Hurricane Season

Small businesses encouraged to prepare ahead of active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season

[Pensacola, Fla.] - The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of small business assistance, urges small businesses to prepare for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins today and extends through November 30.

The 2020 season is already off to a busy start. The National Hurricane Center is monitoring the possibility of a tropical development in the Gulf of Mexico this week. According to a forecast by Colorado State University (CSU), the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be above normal, with eight hurricanes, 16 named storms, and four major hurricanes. CSU will release its next season update June 4.

The Shipwreck Raw Bar in Port Saint Joe after Hurricane Michael.

In 2019, Florida faced multiple threats and one close catastrophe with Hurricane Dorian, but no official landfalls impacted the state.

The Florida SBDC Network encourages businesses to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season by developing a disaster preparedness plan. Businesses should consider several elements in preparing for a disaster. Not only is it important to protect staff, their building, data, and inventory, it is also critical to prepare a plan to continue operations following the disaster. A good plan may include provisions to relocate to a pre-identified site, retrieve data, including employee, customer and vendor records; and a way to operate efficiently with a smaller staff of key individuals.

The Florida SBDC also strongly encourages businesses to back up data and ensure they have access to important files, such as tax records, legal, and financial documents.

“This hurricane season offers a new challenge for small businesses in preparing for an active hurricane season during a global pandemic,” said Michael W. Myhre, CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “Now more than ever, it is important that small businesses have a plan in place. Plans may need adjustments that business owner may have never considered due to the complexities that surround the coronavirus so it’s important that businesses take those circumstances into account and prepare now.”

Small business owner Joshua Street, gets help from Business Consultant Johnny Branch in the Florida SBDC Network emergency response Mobile Assistance Center (MAC) after Hurricane Michael destroyed his office in Panama City

The Florida SBDC Network is a public-private partnership that leverages the resources of higher education and economic development to serve the needs of aspiring and existing small businesses. 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.

Through the network’s service offering, professionally certified business consultants can help small business owners develop comprehensive business continuity, emergency preparedness, and disaster recovery plans at no cost. As part of its service offering, the Florida SBDC also offers Bizaster, a free mobile disaster assistance app. Bizaster, available in both English and Spanish for Android and iOS, features risk assessments, customizable checklists, and other resources.

In the event of a disaster, Florida SBDC disaster specialists are available to help affected businesses prepare disaster loan applications. The network will also deploy its mobile assistance centers into communities for affected businesses to receive on-site assistance with disaster loans and other post-disaster challenges.

Florida SBDCs also offer educational training on disaster preparedness, tips, and resources.

Preparedness Resources: Where to Go

  • For more information regarding the Florida SBDC’s services and Bizaster app, please click here.
  • For a list of preparedness resources, including tips for assembling a Business Ready “Records-To-Go” Box, please click here.
  • FloridaDisaster.org – The state’s official source of general and specific information for individuals and businesses from the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
  • FloridaDisaster.biz - The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s website to provide businesses access to critical information before, during, and after a disaster.
  • The Hurricane Supplies Sales Tax Holiday is May 29 - June 4. To learn more about the holiday and qualifying items, please click here.
  • For a hurricane preparedness checklist and other resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), please click here.

For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.