25 A unique team created to assist small businesses hit by the

Some small businesses learn to be survivors The Gazette

Dec. 25 A unique team created to assist small businesses hit by the June 2008 canada goose outlet uk floods in canada goose jacket outlet Cedar Rapids is hoping to fill in key pieces of a road map badly needed in future disaster recoveries.

Some 943 businesses in Cedar Rapids sustained losses from surface water when the Cedar River flooded June 13, 2008, at more than twice the flood stage. Another 82 businesses were indirectly affected by loss of utilities, sewer backups or other flood related effects.

The https://www.drachen-spiele.de Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce created the Business Long Term Recovery Initiative, later known as the Business Success Initiative, in January 2010.

The idea was deceptively simple to help keep small businesses affected by the June 2008 flood and the recession afloat by engaging them directly and cheap Canada Goose learning more about their problems.

The team included five to seven case managers, with small business ownership and leadership experience.

While the canada goose outlet idea was simple, executing it was not. It had been

18 months since the flood, and the unit was charged with visiting the premises of each business. Many of the businesses had moved, others had closed.

There was no master directory indicating their status, or how to contact them.

In the vast majority of cases, the team managed it. The contact from the case management unit was in some cases the first time a helping hand had reached out to many of the businesses, said Bob Harschnek, the former TrueNorth Companies executive who canada goose outlet Canada Goose Parka toronto factory got the group started and later brought on Scott Swenson as senior case manager.

«It was, ‘Finally somebody is here to help uk canada goose outlet and listen,’?» Harschnek said.

The question of what help he needed seemed ironic at first to Dave Axline, co owner of West Side Sewing Center and Oreck Clean Home Center.

«Where do I start?» he recalled wondering. «I’m in so much trouble I could cry to you for a week.»

The businesses that were still open after 18 months were survivors but had not escaped danger. Some of the owners actually sobbed as they told their stories.

Because of the flood and recession, their sales were down by an average of 25 percent. Because of the uninsured damages they incurred in the flood, to canada goose outlet canada reopen they had on average incurred 50 percent more long term debt than they had before canada goose outlet shop the flood.

«They drained their cash and went Canada Goose sale into their 401(k) canada goose black friday sale plans,» Harschnek said. «They started running up credit cards, and they started not paying themselves.»

Of the businesses willing to share canada goose outlet in usa information about their finances, 200 indicated they had accumulated a total of $31 million in debt. Harschnek said the need to borrow was understandable but running up credit card debt, especially, was not a great idea.

Swenson said the case management unit helped provide the businesses with resources that didn’t cost them anything, such as workshops in how to prepare uk canada goose social media marketing campaigns at no cost.

«Nobody could have anticipated that a recession would hit at the same time,» Swenson said. canada goose outlet «They had long term canada goose clearance debt and sales problems, and no cash. They had an inability to market, expand staff or buy equipment.»

The unit made a big difference to companies such as West Side Sewing Center and Garden Gate Flower Shop, even though they’d already reopened.

Axline said the case management unit coordinated with his business and «kept us thinking.» He canada goose factory sale was initially referred to the volunteer business counseling group SCORE but SCORE volunteers weren’t experts in disaster recovery grants.

Axline said it was clear that the case management team was figuring out things as it went, just as he was. He said canada goose factory outlet he received good advice at the workshops the chamber offered, including a clinic on the tax treatment of disaster grants that helped him avoid some significant problems.

Providing documentation to meet the frequently changing grant requirements became a half time job for Axline, while his daughter, Shelley Cervantes, ran the business. He has more than 150 canada goose outlet online uk folders of documents stored on his computer’s hard drive.

Rebecca Pflughaupt of Garden Gate Flower Shop said her case manager, Steve Hunter, called her with grant deadline reminders and gave her useful tips on marketing. She said Hunter’s background in business and marketing gave him useful insights. One of the canada goose outlet key needs was to break a logjam in processing grant applications caused by difficulty in the businesses producing required documentation.

Swenson said the programs were modified from more of an «insurance approach» of documenting exactly what was damaged so that it could be reimbursed for replacement purposes to more of an economic approach.

A key finding in the unit’s canada goose outlet sale report is that the survival rate of small businesses after the June 2008 flood in Cedar Rapids was better than the norm in major canada goose catastrophes. After three years, the unit found 82 percent of the affected Cedar Rapids businesses were still in operation, compared to only 45 percent on a national basis.

«It was unlike any others in that, here, we were so quick to help ourselves,» Swenson said. «It was business helping business, and we were good about planning the recovery.»

Building a strong team of seasoned business leaders with a variety of professional strengths was part of what made the case management unit successful, Harschnek said. All of them were from the Cedar Rapids area, and some of them already had worked in small business flood recovery.

Another factor the case management team had going for it was the input and endorsement of Cedar Rapids Small Business Recovery, an ad hoc grass roots small business group that had sprung up. The chamber enlisted the leaders of the group to help lead its own flood recovery initiative.

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