Tampa Bay RPC Hosts Business Leader for Hurricane Recovery
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, through a program funded by the Economic Development Administration and implemented by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), hosted former business leader, Robert Walsh, May 21-25th in the Tampa Bay region. Walsh, a volunteer with the IEDC, served as the New York City Small Business Services Commissioner from 2002 to 2014 and was appointed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to secure funding for business owners in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. During his time in the Tampa Bay region, Walsh worked with the Disaster Recovery Coordinator on how to secure recovery grants for the business community, visited multiple cities to provide insight on recovery and led small businesses through the restoration process.
During a workshop held on May 24th Walsh shared best practices on how to ensure a natural disaster doesn’t become a business catastrophe. Following Hurricane Sandy, Walsh experienced a delay of several months in receiving recovery funds from the federal government. He advised that businesses and governments should plan for similar scenarios. Business owners need to identify early the resources they need to recover and how to obtain them. This includes partnering with government agencies that may have emergency grants available for storefront cleanup and other necessary repairs to get the doors open again. Walsh also suggested that local chambers of commerce and municipal governments help businesses find potential funding sources by creating a plan before a hurricane strikes.