What Small Business Owners Should Know About Extreme Weather

There are many complex policy issues that have a major impact on the small business community. Each week, we’re going to help break one of those issues down so small business owners can stay in the know and remain aware of their stake in these national issues. This week’s Issue Q&A is on extreme weather.

Q: Why is extreme weather a small business concern?

A: Small businesses are uniquely vulnerable to extreme weather events and can suffer lasting economic damage as a result of a single extreme weather event because many lack the access to capital and resources of many large corporations.

Q: How does extreme weather impact small businesses?

A: Extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy or the extreme weather that pummeled much of the East Coast this past year, can cripple small businesses, and force many of them to shut down operations, losing money along the way. This has  forced some to pay exorbitant repair costs and even lay off employees. And those are the lucky ones. According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, an estimated 25% of small to mid-sized businesses do not reopen following a major natural disaster.

Q: Why aren’t small businesses better prepared for extreme weather events?

A: Simply put, a majority of small businesses have not closely analyzed the potential economic losses from extreme weather events due to a lack of resources to do so. In fact, 57% of small businesses have no disaster recovery plans in place.

Q: What can be done to shield small businesses from damaging extreme weather?

A: There are several pieces of legislation in Congress that lawmakers should consider passing that would help small businesses protect and better prepare themselves for extreme weather events. One of which is the STRONG Act. It would build upon existing extreme weather resiliency efforts to provide state and local planners with tools and information needed to develop and improve extreme weather resiliency efforts. Additionally, the Small Business Administration should begin assessing the effects of climate change and extreme weather on the small business community to better educate small employers and lawmakers on this issue.