LISC launches pilot program with Wells Fargo grant to help small businesses build disaster resilience

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 10:00 AM EDT

NEW YORK, June 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The Local initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is collaborating with the Wells Fargo Foundation on a pilot program to help small businesses plan for and recover from disasters.

The Wells Fargo Foundation is seeding the LISC Small Business Resiliency Network with a $2 million grant to fund community-based disaster training, planning, and support for as many as 500 small businesses in communities that are particularly prone to disasters.

The program will operate through 20 nonprofit business development organizations (BDOs) in Alabama, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas so that these BDOs can hire and train staff in business continuity management and increase local businesses access to capital.

The BDOs will help local businesses—particularly those operating in disaster-prone areas—address a range of significant challenges, from translating climate change impact for small businesses to building recovery and preparedness into business plans to climate-related business opportunities. The goal is to help owners weather the impact of disasters, preserve jobs, and protect and grow local income.

"With this grant, we aim to catalyze more support for the LISC Small Business Resiliency Network and strengthen the capacity for local nonprofits to guide small business owners through disaster readiness strategies," said Molly Porter, interim president of the Wells Fargo Foundation. "Entrepreneurs and the communities they serve benefit when there is an opportunity to plan ahead. We hope this effort will help keep more small businesses on a growth path even in the face of challenges."

Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to disaster, oftentimes without the business plans, savings, financing partners, insurance or other support needed to recover from catastrophic loss. An estimated 25 percent of small businesses never re-open after a devastating hurricane or wildfire, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The challenges are magnified for those who historically have faced capital gaps, like owners who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). As example, an estimated 40 percent of Black-owned businesses failed during the early days of the pandemic, more than twice as many as those with white owners.

"Whether we are talking about hurricanes, wildfires, or public health crises, a disaster can be a crushing blow to small business owners—and by extension, their employees and the communities that they serve," said LISC CEO Lisa Glover.

"But we also know from experience that losses can be mitigated with strong planning, solid adaptation strategies, and help to navigate the tangled mix of public programs that are available," Glover continued. "Working with community-based BDOs—especially those focused on underserved communities—we are building a model that will expand that capacity for recovery."

The pilot complements LISC's existing disaster recovery and small business support programs, which included more than $240 million in COVID-relief grants to minority-owned businesses and enterprises in disinvested communities throughout the pandemic.

To learn more about the LISC Small Business Resiliency Network, visit LISC's site.

About LISC
LISC is one of the country's largest community development organizations, helping forge vibrant, resilient communities across America. We work with residents and partners to close systemic gaps in health, wealth and opportunity and advance racial equity so that people and places can thrive. Since our founding in 1979, LISC has invested $26.7 billion to create more than 463,000 affordable homes and apartments, develop 78.5 million square feet of retail, community and educational space and help tens of thousands of people find employment and improve their finances. For more, visit www.lisc.org.

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SOURCE Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

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