February 14, 2003 is a pivotal day in the timeline of world economic stability. As war becomes seemingly inevitable, and the risk of terror attacks increase, business leaders around the country are addressing what they need to do to be prepared. This time, preparation is as crucial for the managing partner of a small CPA firm in Memphis as it is for the head of a multinational corporation on Wall Street.
The University of Pennsylania's Wharton School of Business held an international symposium this week with global executives to discuss how businesses can and should prepare themselves in the event that the United States goes to war with Iraq.
The threat of war, coupled with a lame economy, has caused many businesses to postpone new projects and hold off on any new investments until more certainty of the future is known. "A lot of businesses have put themselves on hold," said Colin Crook, an adviser to the Wharton Fellows program and former chief technology officer for Citibank. "And the feeling of general economic malaise is worsening it. This is a … bleak situation, a double whammy. Nobody sees any positive signs of any sort."
Separately, in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, and large cities across the United States, business leaders are meeting with local government officials to prepare contingency plans, evacuation plans, and "survival" plans in the event of a chemical, biological or nuclear attack.
Resources Available to Business Owners
A number of resources have been developed to assist business owners create a disaster plan and prepare for the worse. Among them:
- Homeland Security Advisory System Recommendations (American Red Cross) - describes recommended actions for businesses at the various threat levels identified by the Homeland Security Council
- Preparing Your Business For The Unthinkable (American Red Cross) - guide to preparing your employees, customers and business in the event of a disaster
- Terrorism: Preparing For The Unexpected (American Red Cross) - a step by step checklist of what to do in the event of an attack
- Emergency Management Guide For Business and Industry (Federal Emergency Management Agency) - emergency planning, response and recovery guide for companies of all sizes
- Open For Business (Small Business Administration) - A Disaster Planning Guide For The Small Business Owner
- Homeland Security State Contact List (White House) - provides a map of the United States to identify each state's security coordinator