This Insights article was contributed by Heather McWhorter, Regional Director of the Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC)
Hurricane Florence had a profound impact on our community, citizens, and small businesses.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40 percent of businesses do not re-open after a disaster, and for those that do, only 29 percent were still operating after two years.
If your business was affected, there are both short-term and long-term steps to take.
The first steps to business recovery include:
- Contacting your insurance carrier to file your claim. If you are leasing a business space, ensure that your lease owner has contacted their insurance carrier. Take pictures and video of the damage.
- Registering with FEMA online or by downloading the FEMA mobile app or by phone at (800) 621-3362 (TTY: (800) 462-7585).
- Contacting an SBTDC business counselor near you by calling 800-228-8443 or submitting an intake form at www.sbtdc.org/hurricaneflorence. Business counselors can meet with you in person, by video or via phone to assess your business impacts, develop an overall recovery plan, and help you apply for Rapid Recovery bridge loans or SBA disaster loans if necessary. Loans can be an important tool in your recovery, but acquiring debt is not the answer for every business. Let an experienced counselor help you determine your best path forward.
- If needed, applying for a Rapid Recovery loan. Thread Capital, the NC Rural Center’s lending arm, offers Rapid Recovery loans up to $50,000. These short-term loans can be repaid using insurance proceeds or other disaster loan proceeds. Zero-percent interest for six months, but then one percent per month after that.
- If needed, applying for an SBA disaster loan. SBA provides low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters, businesses and non-profits. SBTDC business counselors can assist you in preparing your loan package and help evaluate your ability to repay. Physical damage and economic injury loans of up to $2 million cover uninsured or underinsured losses.
- Keeping a cool head. You may hear rumors about grants for individuals or businesses. This is common after every disaster and often leads people to delay their own recovery plans. There are no grants for individuals and businesses. There is only hard work, smart decisions, ingenuity, good advice from experienced professionals, and loan programs. Be proactive, be patient, and be persistent in pursuing your recovery. It’s a long road. Many city, state and federal partners work closely to provide you with as much assistance as possible.
After initial steps are complete, strategies should be implemented for the long-term success of your business.
The second steps of business recovery:
- Was your disaster loan application denied? Explore options for addressing comments and resubmitting the application. Research other loan options.
- Implement additional marketing strategies. After the hurricane, many business owners have seen a decrease in customers visiting their retail stores, a decrease in tourists visiting the region, or that they missed a key trade show necessary for the future sales. Develop and implement corrective marketing and advertising strategies to let customers know that you are open for business.
- Check in with your business plan or annual plan. Are your key milestones on track? What corrective strategies need to be implemented?
- Review your insurance policy. Review your policies with a professional to ensure that your business is covered from unexpected events. If you lease space, fully understand landlord responsibilities versus tenant responsibilities.
- Obtain or expand your line of credit. For long-term success of your business a line of credit that is already in place can help your business to get through unexpected events and expenses, such as a drop in sales that can result from a disaster.
SBTDC services are free and confidential, and we have been serving NC businesses for over 34 years. The SBTDC has extensive experience helping NC businesses navigate the complex disaster recovery process.
or call (800) 228-8443 to schedule your appointment with a business counselor.
Robert T. Burrus, Jr., Ph.D., is the dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, named in June 2015. Burrus joined the UNCW faculty in 1998. Prior to his current position, Burrus was interim dean, associate dean of undergraduate studies and the chair of the department of economics and finance. Burrus earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics from Wake Forest University. The Cameron School of Business has approximately 60 full-time faculty members and 20 administrative and staff members. The AACSB-accredited business school currently enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students in three degree programs and 200 graduate students in four degree programs. The school also houses the prestigious Cameron Executive Network, a group of more than 200 retired and practicing executives that provide one-on-one mentoring for Cameron students. To learn more about the Cameron School of Business, please visit http://csb.uncw.edu/. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].