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Extension specialists can help businesses evaluate their resilience

By: Jody Thompson / Published: Nov 12,  2015

Weather here on the coast is ever changing. As I write this, it is a sunny fall day, with low humidity and temperatures in the mid-70s, but tomorrow thunderstorms are forecast with temperatures feeling closer to the end of summer. We can’t control the weather, but we can make choices that lessen its impact on us. For instance, tomorrow I can wear rain boots and carry an umbrella.

Some tools created by Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant can help coastal businesses lessen the impacts that coastal hazards, like hurricanes, have on their operations. For a few years now, local municipalities and counties have been using a checklist, the Community Resilience Index, to see how prepared they are before, during and after a hazard event. Now, new indices can help businesses do the same.

The Tourism Resilience Index is targeted at a wide-range of businesses located and working along the coast: hotels, restaurants and nature tours just to name a few. Fishing businesses, like shrimp boat companies and processors, can benefit from the Fisheries Resilience Index. Charter fishermen and guides may benefit from either or both tools.

Resilience indices are designed to be completed quickly, in just an hour or two, and to give a snapshot of resilience. Each section consists of simple yes or no questions, with each section rating a low, medium or high. Scores are not shared or collected for comparison.

MASGC’s Tracie Sempier, right, discusses the new Tourism Resilience Index with a group of potential Tourism Resilience Index facilitators from the Sea Grant college programs in the Gulf of Mexico.
MASGC’s Tracie Sempier, right, discusses the new Tourism Resilience Index with a group of potential Tourism Resilience Index facilitators from the Sea Grant college programs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Although a business leader might complete the index on his or her own, the experience is made more valuable by including a neutral facilitator. The extension agents of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant are happy to lead any business through the exercise. Implementing ideas from the indices can help lessen impacts and help get back to business more quickly after a storm or other disaster occurs. We can’t control when or where a disaster might happen, but planning for these eventualities will make local businesses and our communities stronger.

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