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Community Futures offers Business Continuity course for entrepreneurs aiming to survive, even thrive, after natural disaster, crime or worse

Preparedness is key — Nelson Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Management Director Len McCharles and Community Economic Development Coordinator Lisa Cannady say Nelson and area businesses of all sorts should take part in next month’s Community Future’s BusinessContinuity Planning Workshops, March 9 & 10, from 5-8 p.m. — Submitted photo

By Darren Davidson, Davidson Communications & Media

Disasters.

They aren’t just fires and floods. 

In fact, you’re more likely to experience a disaster from within. As a business owner you have to think about accidents, break-ins, power disruptions, data loss, cyber-attacks, environmental disasters and more. 

That’s the aim of an upcoming workshop being offered by Community Futures Central Kootenay, focusing on something every entrepreneur should understand — Business Continuity Planning. 

“The workshop is for business owners who want to protect their business,” explains Community Economic Development Coordinator Lisa Cannady, “by creating an organization's business continuity plan to ensure owners have the resources and information needed to help deal with the risk posed by any sort of potential disasters.” 

“The course will identify your key resources and needs, enabling you to keep your business running,” Cannady adds, “or how to recover your business in catastrophic cases.”

The two-night workshop runs March 9 & 10, from five to eight p.m. The cost is just $50, plus GST.

Nelson Fire Chief & Director of Emergency Management Director Len McCharles has seen the aftermath of natural disaster on a thriving business community, from the front line of one of Canada’s worst meteorological calamities.

In June 2013, Calgary and Southern Alberta experienced catastrophic flooding after a number of days of heavy rainfall and spring snow melt.

The flood of the Bow and Elbow Rivers spilt deep into downtown Calgary’s business and residential community.

“Some of the bigger businesses — in the office towers and high rises — managed to maintain operation,” says McCharles, who was the Deputy Chief for the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) and is strongly encouraging business owners to sign up for next month’s Community Futures program.

“But a lot of small businesses were heavily impacted,” the veteran fire fighter adds, “the ones that got hit the hardest were the smallest.”

McCharles notes some sobering stats, according to the United States’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The organization, which has been on the front lines during calamities like New Jersey/New York’s Hurricane Sandy, the California wildfires and Hurricane Katrina’s devastating run through New Orleans and Louisiana, reports that following a disaster, up to 40 percent of businesses don’t re-open. Of those that do, up to 25 percent fail in first year, “because they’re busy playing catch up,” McCharles explains.

“Think about it,” the Nelson Fire Chief says. “If a small business goes a month or 60 days without cash flow, they have trouble recovering. And their employees don't get paid. That’s a pretty big deal, in small communities in particular. It’s all interrelated.”

For Nelson and area small business owners, the effects of a disaster are sometimes blunt, and quite easy to mitigate.

“Many small business owners in Calgary hadn't thought about basis things— they couldn’t access their work computer, the phone numbers and contact for employees, important documents, insurance policy copies, stock/inventory/delivery and purchase details.”

“If you physically can’t access your place of business, how can you carry on business?”

The Community Futures workshop will provide owners and managers important information about how they can help their business survive, Cannady adds, and perhaps even thrive, during and following an emergency.

The Business Continuity course “can make a really big difference,” the pair note, “we need to understand the realities of what we live with here in the Kootenays.”

E-mail info@futures.bc.ca to register, call 250-352-1933 x100 or click on futures.bc.ca/ced/business-continuity