Story County Business Resiliency Committee and Business Resilience Survey
This summer tornadoes and high winds heavily damage businesses in Story City, Marshalltown and Pella. This highlighted to Story County Emergency Management the need to forge a partnership with businesses to reduce their risk to disasters.
“Excellent planning, training, and exercises by the Vermeer Corporation turned what could have been a tragic loss of life when a tornado struck their facilities into a success story,” said Keith Morgan, Story County Emergency Management coordinator. “Prior to the tornado, the company invested in storm shelters, planning for severe weather and training employees on how to execute their duties during a stressful situation.
“This all paid off when only a few people had minor injuries when the tornado hit at the most inopportune time, during a large-scale event with international visitors on their facility. Additionally, they had plans they were able to implement soon after the emergency phase was over and they quickly restored a significant level of production. I want to see all Story County businesses equally prepared for disasters.”
To enhance business preparedness, Story County Emergency Management and Safeguard Iowa reached out to the business community to make them aware of the need to be prepared and to offer them the tools to improve their preparedness. The first step was the formation of the Business Resiliency Committee that currently consist of Safeguard Iowa, Story Construction, Fareway, Knapp/Tedesco, ISU, the Ames Chamber of Commerce, Rick Sanders of the Story County Board of Supervisors, and Story County Emergency Management.
The committee parallels the effort of Safeguard Iowa, which is a state level non-profit organization that looks to provide information on business disaster preparedness and continuity. During disasters, Safeguard Iowa shares information between businesses and government agencies on the needs of the business community, resources the business community may have to help with disaster response, and other information needed to help manage the situation.
One of the first actions of the Business Resiliency Committee was to develop a local business preparedness survey. This survey will help to determine current levels of business preparedness and identify assistance businesses would like to improve their preparedness.
“Our committee is made up of business professionals and leadership,” said Dan Culhane, president and CEO of the Ames Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development. “They recognize other business leaders are very busy and need focused information and assistance so they can implement business resilience improvements in a cost effective manner. The survey data will help guide us as we develop strategies to meet the most important needs of business right up front. This is why their inputs through this survey are very important to us.”
Story County Emergency Management has distributed the survey through the Ames Chamber of Commerce, the Emergency Management Commission, and also the Local Emergency Planning Committee. Businesses that have not received a copy of the survey should contact the Emergency Management office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-382-7315 to receive a copy of the survey.
“Disaster preparedness, response, and recovery relies on citizens, businesses and government working together to drive down our exposure to the risk and improve our ability recover quickly when disaster does strike,” Morgan said. “Without our businesses getting up and running as soon as possible after a disaster, our citizens won’t have jobs to earn the income they need to recover, the tax base is negatively impacted, and the fabric of the community is damaged. This is why this Business Resiliency Committee is an important part of Emergency Management’s efforts to make Story County a stronger community.”