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VOL. 125 | NO. 168 | Monday, August 30, 2010

Summit Will Help Business Owners Prepare for Disaster

SARAH BAKER | Special to The Daily News

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Small businesses are especially vulnerable when disaster strikes, whether it’s a flood, earthquake, tornado, fire or even terrorist activity.

An estimated 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, which means small-business owners need to make emergency preparedness a priority.

Erinn Figg, vice president and group director of archer>malmo’s public relations, said emergencies can render a small business inoperable, costing the business owner thousands of dollars, or even causing the business to shut down indefinitely.

Big companies have entire teams devoted to contingency plans, but small mom-and-pop businesses often have no clue how to deal with large-scale disasters, Figg said.

Small businesses will have a chance to learn how to create or enhance their disaster mitigation plans Tuesday during a daylong summit dedicated to emergency preparedness.

Verizon Wireless is teaming up with the Shelby County Office of Preparedness, the Greater Memphis Chamber and Memphis Business Journal to host “The Verizon Preparedness Planning Summit: A Readiness Workshop for Small Businesses.”

The workshop will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave.

The keynote speaker will be Andrew T. Mitchell, assistant deputy administrator for outreach with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Preparedness Directorate.

His speech, “Preparedness Through Training and Partnerships,” will teach business owners how to develop and implement a contingency plan, respond to disasters appropriately and build basic disaster skills.

The summit will kick off September’s observance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as National Preparedness Month. The hands-on workshop will include interactive sessions and roundtable discussions through training and partnerships.

The event will also apply lessons from other owners’ experiences, such as Millington business owners Keith Benson of Auto Center Specialist and Don Lowery of Commodore Villages, who were both affected by the May flood.

Bob Nations, director of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness, said Tuesday’s convention has been in the making for several years.

“There has been an emphasis on the public and private partnership from the Department of Homeland Security for a very long time,” Nations said. “We look forward to growth next year and in the years to come.”

The cost is $65 for Greater Memphis Chamber members and $85 for nonmembers. The ticket includes parking, a continental breakfast, lunch and refreshments.

Businesses can find further information and reserve their spots by calling Nykesha Cole at 543-3519. Registration by phone is open on Monday, or attendees can pay at the door.

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