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Aiding Disaster Recovery with Economic Development Strategic Planning

Communities are at various levels of readiness when it comes to planning for—and recovering from—disasters.   On one hand, a community can never be totally ready for a disaster, whether it is a massive storm, earthquake, flood, drought, tornado, hurricane or other catastrophe.  On the other hand, recovering from such a calamity is a community-defining experience that impacts the lives of hundreds and thousands—sometimes millions—of people.

For a short period of time after such an event, the community must deal with the shock, as well as immediate emergency management requirements.  Inevitably, however, the priority shifts to “what are we going to do now?” and “how can we make the best of our new circumstance?”

This is where Building Communities can help.

The fact is that most communities do not have a sound economic direction prior to disasters.   Like the majority of communities, disaster-recovery communities generally are not served by an overall strategic direction that channels their efforts to optimally utilize human, financial and technical resources to improve their economic condition and bolster their overall quality of life.

Because state and federal government can bring unique financial and technical resources to disaster-recovery communities, such communities have an amazing opportunity to begin anew.

Building Communities can work directly with communities, or as a part of a broader economic team, to develop a community and economic development strategic plan that jumpstarts the recovery process in a very holistic way.

After assessing the situation, we bring our Before-and-After Key Success Factor Assessment to the table.  This tool helps to separate the inevitable emotion surrounding the event from a rational assessment of the real effects on the community as it moves forward.  The table below presents a subset of potential results from a hypothetical post-disaster community that received a disaster declaration.

Key Success Factor Analysis - Post-disaster for a Hypothetical Community
Key Success Factor Pre-
disaster
Post-
disaster
Change
Availability of Municipal Infrastructure
3
3
-
Proximity to Mineral Resources
4
4
-
Quality Residential Neighborhoods
4
1
Capable Community Development Staff
2
4
High-skill Labor Force
3
3
-
Low-skill Labor Force
3
1
Availability of Small Business Finance Sources
3
4
Strong Downtown Historic District
4
2
Power Transmission Lines with Excess Capacity
3
3
-
Proximity to Local Visitor Attractions
4
4
-
4 = Major Comparative Advantage,  3 = Slight Comparative Advantage,  2 = No Advantage, 1 = Slight Comparative Disadvantage, 0 = Major Comparative Disadvantage

For the ten factors presented in the table, five of them remain unchanged.   Despite the apparent insurmountable odds right after the disaster event, quite often the majority of community key success factors are unchanged!

The factors shown with the orange down arrow indicate the negative impacts of the disaster.   In this case, the community experienced significant damage to its downtown and its residential neighborhoods. As a consequence, the low-skill labor force involved in the recovery work is no longer available but, of course, are making much-needed income.

The two factors stemming from the disaster declaration, and shown with the green up arrow, have improved as more capital is available for businesses and the local community development office has beefed up their staffing with federal funding.

The results of the full Before-and-After Key Success Factor Assessment are very telling—and can be very reassuring that life will go on.  In fact, with this strategic assessment, the community can be better positioned than ever to move forward strategically.

After the initial analysis, Building Communities can offer its full strategic planning methodology to the community, channeling investments of time, funding and human resources in ways that will have positive impacts over the long-term.

What Building Communities brings to the situation is unique in the disaster recovery field.   Our process is very fast and efficient, moderates the emotion and sets the stage for a much more productive utilization of other disaster recovery resources.

For communities, this presents an opportunity to move forward.

For state and federal agencies, this brings a tangible process and report to efficiently deploy their disaster recovery resources.

For businesses that specialize in assisting communities mitigate the effects of such events, Building Communities is a valued team member that provides the foundation for further studies and resource acquisition.

Contact us today to enlist our help to address your situation.

 

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