Entrepreneurs Prepare for Disaster- the Time is Now

August 2019

u s small business administration
Ashley Bell



Ashley D. Bell

Region IV Administrator

U.S. Small Business Administration


Entrepreneurs Need to prepare for Natural Disaster-
the Time is Now

By Ashley D. Bell, Region IV Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration
Covering: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee

September is National Preparedness Month. I view this as not a celebration, but as a critical reminder for entrepreneurs across the Southeast of how important it is to be prepared in case of any natural disaster, whether it is a hurricane, tornado, wild fire, algae bloom – the list goes on. In order for a small business to survive a natural disaster, it must be prepared.

Here are a few tips for entrepreneurs to keep in mind, especially as we reach the peak of hurricane season across the Southeast:

  • Review your hazard and flood coverage to ensure your insurance policy is in effect before a storm hits.
  • Keep your insurance policy information as well as phone numbers for your insurance agent and the claims department handy.
  • Know whom you can call to help you clean/rebuild your business, and have a restoration plan in place so you can focus on the task of quickly reopening your business.
  • Maintain an updated list of all your employees’ contact numbers and email addresses to ensure safety, as well as keeping everyone in the loop about the recovery progress.
  • Obtain a line of credit or have enough cash to run your business for at least three months.
  • Move your important business records, personal memorabilia and anything that’s irreplaceable to an offsite location. Save as much as you possibly can to the cloud.

Currently, there are 11 disasters declared by the President or the SBA across the Southeast Region that are eligible for loan assistance. These declared disasters range from Hurricane Michael to gas leaks and flooding incidents. A complete listing of open disaster declarations may be found here with pertinent information such as disaster assistance deadlines.

Please keep in mind that the SBA provides low-interest loans and assistance to allow affected businesses, homeowners and renters to rebuild and recover.

Specifically, the SBA:

  • Provides loan assistance up to $200,000 to help homeowners repair or replace their damaged or destroyed primary residence.
  • Provides up to $40,000 in loan assistance to help homeowners and renters replace damaged or destroyed personal property such as furniture, clothing, appliances and vehicles.
  • Provides up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged real estate, leasehold improvements, furniture and fixtures, inventory, and machinery and equipment for businesses of all sizes and private non-profit organizations.
  • Offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and most private non-profit organizations that have suffered economic injury caused by a disaster. These loans provide working capital to a business or organization until normal operations can resume.

Please stay prepared, and you are always welcome to reach out to the SBA for assistance at www.sba.gov/disaster. Our job is to help you build a lasting business for many generations, no matter what nature has in store for us.

Please follow us on Twitter @SBASoutheast for the most updated information.

disaster preparedness tile

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Local News From Your

SBA District Office

Thomas Todt

Alabama District Office

Thomas (Tom) Todt, District Director

Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council was hosted by the Alabama District Office on August 22 during a daylong Opportunity Zone tour of Birmingham. While here, he participated at a groundbreaking ceremony at the American Life Building, vacant for 36 years and planned for development into work force housing. The American Life Building is the first approved Opportunity Zone project in the southeast. He also participated in an Opportunity Zone roundtable held at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark where he listened to proposed Opportunity Zone projects and offered feedback. He was hosted at a luncheon at the UAB Hilton by University of Alabama at Birmingham President Ray Watts to see several projects that the university hopes can make use of Opportunity Zone funds. To round out the day he went on a bus tour of Birmingham to review proposed Opportunity Zone projects, including a redevelopment of the vacant 50 acre site of the former Carraway Medical Center into a residential, entertainment, commercial, and small business complex. Representing SBA was Ashley Bell, Region 4 Administrator and L. D. Ralph, Deputy District Director. Also present was Bruce Levell, Region 4 Advocate, shown here on the left with Scott Turner.

Scott Turner Bruce LeVell

Bruce LeVell, SBA Regiojn 4 Advocate (L) and Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council

Wilfredo Gonzalez 2

North Florida District Office

Wilfredo J. Gonzalez, District Director

The North Florida District Office hosted a WHIAAPI Listening Session in Jacksonville, Florida. Per Executive Order 13515, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) works to improve the quality of life for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) across the nation through increased access to and participation in federal programs. Participants were provided with information about SBA programs and services. The general information session was followed by a panel discussion where participants asked a panel of experts questions about their businesses.

Group Shot WHIAAPI

Photo of participants from the WHIAAPI Listening Session in Jacksonville, Florida.

Wilfredo Gonzalez

Photo of District Director Wilfredo Gonzalez delivering opening remarks to the group.WHIAAPI in action

Participants asking questions and making comments during the WHIAAPI Listening Session

Victoria Guerrero

South Florida District Office

Victoria Guerrero, District Director

This month, we hosted the Region 4 Administrator Ashley D. Bell and SBA Surety Bond Underwriting Marketing Specialist Tamara Murray for a Surety Bond event on Aug.15 in the City of Pembroke Pines. The event, which attracted more than 50 small business owners, included discussions on how surety bonds can expand a business’s footprint; ways businesses can access higher contract bonds and bond interest rate limits.

AB Speaking

RA Bell discussed the importance of contracting bonding while delivering opening remarks during the SFDO Surety Bond event.

Tamara Murray

Tamara Murray of SBA Office of Surety Guarantees discusses ways businesses can access higher contract bond limits, collateral requirements, and bond interest rates during a Surety Bond event on Aug. 15.

Van Hook

RA Bell joins (l-r) Brian VanHook, associate director SBDC at FIU; Rafael Cruz, director of Florida SBDC at FAU, and George Ray, SBDC consultant, during the SFDO Surety Bond event.

DRIVE 8(a)

Our staff has worked hard over the last few months to bring more visibility to our business Development Program through a series Drive 8(a) workshops.

Our first Drive 8(a) -Recruitment event was held in May in Broward County. Following the success and positive feedback, we launched the Drive 8(a) series as a way to educate the 1.5 million small business owners located in our district’s 24 counties on the process and benefits of competing in the federal contracting arena.

In addition to recruitment, we are also hosting success summits to help current 8(a) firms maximize their potential. Our first Drive 8(a) Success Summit was held in Tampa on Aug. 22.

Our next Recruitment event will be held on Sept. 10 in the City of Cocoa.

Stay tuned by following us on Twitter @SBA_SouthFL.

Terri Denison

Georgia District Office

Terri L. Denison, District Director


The SBA Georgia District Office in coordination with USDA Georgia Rural Development launched a successful Rural Strong West Georgia event in West Point, GA this week. The day started in Warm Springs, GA with officials from USDA and SBA touring Good Pac Plastics; an USDA success story who is a recipient of an USDA B & I Loan.  Next, the team visited The Bulloch House restaurant in Warm Springs; an SBA success story resulting from an SBA 7a Loan. Lastly, the SBA and USDA teams arrived in West Point at the West Point Depot where over 100 local businesses, lenders, and resource partners gathered for the Rural Strong program. Lenders learned how to utilize the SBA and USDA loan programs to help the local businesses grow and create jobs. They also learned about the different export loans available for them to utilize with their customers. Entrepreneurs learned how to grow their businesses with USDA and SBA resources for generations to come. Rural Strong West Georgia was a huge success!

Good pac Plastics

Family-owned GoodPac Plastics in Warm Springs, GA; recipient of USDA loan.: Pictured: Jim (father) and Mike(son) Goodwin

Bulloch House

The Bulloch House; SBA 7a Loan recipient- pictured left to right: Joyce White, USDA State Director, Peter Lampert, Bulloch House Owner, Terri Denison, SBA State Director and Jacki Ponti-Lazaruk, USDA Chief Innovation Officer

West Point Depot

Rural Strong West Georgia in action with SBA's Jeff Patterson speaking

Robert Coffey DDD

Kentucky District Office

Robert Coffey, Acting District Director


KY Participates with Other Federal Agencies in Small Business Events

The Kentucky District Office participated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the University of Louisville Women’s Center in the Procurement Information you Need to Know (PINK) Initiative on August 7th in Louisville.
The PINK Initiative is a targeted Woman-Owned Business, Woman-Owned Small Business and Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business initiative to reinforce the USACE Commands’ commitment to provide the maximum practicable opportunity for technically competent, capable firms to compete for procurement opportunities. 

The Kentucky District Office also participated with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Small Business Transportation Resource Center, South Atlantic Region, in a Small Business Lender Fair on August 13 in Louisville. The event focused on financing opportunities for small businesses, including traditional and non-traditional lenders.

The lender fair included a speed networking session to connect with multiple lenders. Also, entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to meet one-on-one with local lenders to learn about various lending programs and other financial products available. The DOT Small Business Lender Fair will be repeated in September.

Janita Stewart

Mississippi District Office

Janita Stewart, District Director


As part of the “Drive 8(a)” regional initiative, the Mississippi District rolled out its “8(a) Success Summit” held Thursday, July 25th at the Clyde Muse Center at Hinds Community College Rankin County Campus. 8(a) BD staff BOS Joyce Conner and EDS Jeremy Sanford, the LRD staff, and DD Janita Stewart participated in and supported the event along with AO Tarvis Bethea. The event targeted current Mississippi 8(a) firms and 8(a) graduated firms. The morning segment involved a series of breakout sessions that provided training on “Estimating, Bidding and DCAA Compliance; 8(a) Mentor-Protégés/JVs/Teaming Agreements; All-Small MPP; and Transitioning Out of the 8(a) Program (for existing 8(a) firms). District Counsel Valerie Parente participated as a trainer along with7(j) Contractor, Ruffin Consulting. In addition, SLRS Rhonda Fisher, LRS Rosetta Harris and LRS Debbie Dean facilitated breakout sessions with top SBA lenders and SBA-funded resource partners (SBDC, SCORE and VBOC) who shared important information on small business financing and technical assistance available. The afternoon general sessions focused on real Contracting Opportunities available from the City of Jackson; the MS Dept of Transportation; the Meridian Naval Air Station; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District; and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research Development Center. PCR Ashlei Donerson provided information on the role of a PCR and assistance provided by the SBA’s Office of Government Contracting. Closing out the event was a focus on Prime and Subcontracting with CHAHTA Holding Group, Inc. (the Mississippi Band of Choctaws); Ingalls Shipbuilding; and SOL Engineering Services, LLC. All organizations exhibited including the MS Dev Authority and PTAC, and were also able to speak with attendees one-on-one. Approximately 50 were in attendance.

drive 8a ms 1

District Director Janita Stewart addressing the audience

MS Drive 8a 3

Clockwise – The audience; EDS Jeremy Sanford; Exhibit Area; and Walt Ruffin, Ruffin Consulting.

On Monday, August 27th, the Gulfport Branch Office hosted a Small Business Workshop for the Beauty and Hair Industry. The event provided entrepreneurial resources on how to start, operate, and grow their businesses and had the opportunity to meet with SBA resources partners and lenders. There was approximately 55 in attendance for this event.

MS Beauty School

Save the Date: #RuralStrong MS

Rural Strong – South in Poplarville, MS
September 19, 2019
Pearl River Community College (PRCC)
101 Highway 11 North
Poplarville, MS 39470


Check for registration information by visiting www.sba.gov/MS or by following on Twitter @SBA_MS.

Mike Arriola new HS

North Carolina District Office

Michael Arriola, Acting District Director


Drive 8(a) Recruitment Summit

The NCDO hosted a Drive 8(a) recruitment event on August 15 at the Morrison Regional Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. The event drew more than 55 people, including Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12), and taught attendees the basics of the 8(a) program, eligibility requirements, and how to apply.
Named after Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, the 8(a) Program certifies economically and socially disadvantaged small businesses to perform contract work with the federal government. The SBA North Carolina District Office is recruiting new firms into the program to perform such work.
In addition to program basics, summit attendees were treated to discussions from government contracting and financial experts. A local 8(a) success shared his personal reflections and business story with the audience as well.

Richard White

 South Carolina District Office

Gregg White, District Director



HBCU Summit

The South Carolina District Office is excited to announce our first-ever Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Entrepreneurship Summit on September 18th with Benedict College!

Participants will learn about the SBA’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Program and the many opportunities it provides to small businesses, HBCUs and students. Join us at this no-cost event to hear from SBA Regional Administrator Ashley D. Bell and Dr. Rosalyn Artis, President of Benedict College.

You will also hear from our office and small business experts on how to start and grow your own business and seek federal contracting opportunities. Following will be a panel discussion and networking session with HUBZone certified firms, small businesses, federal procurement agencies, and SBA Resource partners. This is a great opportunity to speak with contracting officers from Fort Jackson, Shaw AFB and Forest Services.

Click here to register. For additional information, contact Angela Brewer at 803-765-5907 or angela.brewer@sba.gov or Michael Corp at 803-765-5961 or michael.corp@sba.gov. We hope to see you there!

LaTanya Channel

Tennessee District Office

LaTanya Channel, District Director


Drive 8(a) Tennessee Draws Record Attendance in Memphis- Next Stop: Kingsport and Nashville!

Drive 8a nashville

On July 31, the SBA Tennessee District Office and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) in Memphis cohosted Drive 8(a) Memphis at the Southwest Tennessee Community College (Macon Cove Campus). Over 100 attendees heard from Ashley D. Bell, SBA Region IV Administrator; Rory Thomas, SBDC Director; LaTanya Channel, SBA District Director; and Eric Terrell, Senior Area Manager.

On August 7, the SBA Tennessee District Office and the TSBDC in Kingsport cohosted a workshop about the Myths and Truths on becoming 8(a) certified at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce. Attendees were given an overview of certification process as well as how an 8(a) certified participant can access set aside contracts. The next Drive 8(a) event will be in Nashville in September 2019, so contact our office for more information.


Rural Strong Tennessee Launches Bus Tour Across Tennessee

In our efforts to support the Rural Strong initiative, on September 23, 2019, the SBA Tennessee District Office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Office, and multiple statewide partners will kick off Rural Strong Tennessee with a bus tour starting in East Tennessee and continuing on to stops in Middle and West Tennessee. The mission of The Venture mobile bus is to inspire and equip entrepreneurs and business owners across rural Tennessee with the tools they need to succeed. During these Rural Strong Tennessee events, we will be recognizing businesses that have received SBA and USDA financial assistance as well as SBA lenders who have pledged to increase lending to rural small businesses by 5%. Contact the Tennessee District Office (www.sba.gov/tn) to find out when we’ll be in your town!