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McNeese counsels businesses to have a plan

McNeese counsels businesses to have a plan

Portia Metoyer, left, business continuity consultant with the LSBDC at McNeese, works with James G. Gobert, CEO and president of Lake City Trucking in Lake Charles, to develop a business continuity plan for his small business, which was established in 1988 and currently has 40 employees. McNeese Photo/Anne Cobb
Southwest Louisiana business owners impacted by the 2008 Hurricanes Gustav or Ike can now take advantage of free business continuity planning offered by the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at McNeese State University thanks to a special grant provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Business continuity is the ability to maintain critical business functions in the face of a disruptive event, according to Portia Metoyer, business continuity consultant with the LSBDC at McNeese.

"Business owners should be ready for anything that could shut their business down-a hurricane, an evacuation order, a major supplier goes out of business or employee thefts," said Metoyer.

She said regardless of the size of an organization, every business should develop a business continuity plan that will protect it by minimizing the impact of unplanned disruption and improve the likelihood that the business will survive and recover.

Every plan is different based on the needs of the individual organization, Metoyer added. "Here at McNeese, the LSBSC is the perfect resource to help a business develop a business continuity plan."

The LSBDC at McNeese has worked with 46 businesses such as Lake City Trucking owned by James G. Gobert as part of its commitment to help businesses in Southwest Louisiana 'plan' to stay in business. McNeese Photo/Anne Cobb
Southwest Louisiana businesses in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis parishes that qualify can take advantage of the business continuity planning services, according to Metoyer.

"If your business sustained physical damage or if you had to evacuate and lost income due to Gustav or Ike, then you qualify," said Metoyer. "Our business consultants will come to your place of business and work one-on-one to help you develop a business continuity plan tailored to meet the needs of your business."

The LSBDC at McNeese also holds training events and area workshops to help business owners understand a variety of business continuity concepts including risk management, disaster response planning, insurance and data security.

As hurricane season approaches, the McNeese center will offer business continuity workshops in June in Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis parishes. Dates, times and places for these workshops will be posted online at the McNeese Small Business Development Center website.

Ready Kit

Every business should have a "ready kit" - stored in a fire-resistant and waterproof box in a safe off-site location - that includes important documents and supplies necessary for business to continue after a small interruption or big disaster, said Metoyer. Some suggested items include:

  • Business Continuity Plan
    • Emergency contact list of employees and key customers/clients
    • List of suppliers and vendors
    • Insurance policies and agent information
    • Emergency Action Plan
  • Inventory list and pictures
  • Voice mail box number and remote password
  • Back-up computer systems/data files
  • Pictures of business interior and exterior
  • Video or photos of company assets
  • List of current values of all inventory and assets
  • Camera to document damage
  • Legal documents
  • Current financials
  • Last three years' tax returns
  • Cash reserves
  • Bank records including checking, savings, credit and debit cards, loans and letters of credit
Since the program began last summer, Metoyer has worked with 46 businesses and has provided risk assessments for 25 small businesses. "Our job is to help ensure continuity and survival of the business until it can achieve full recovery," she said. "We want to help businesses 'plan' to stay in business."

James G. Gobert, CEO and president of Lake City Trucking in Lake Charles, took advantage of the program. "I had on-the-job disaster training with a fire in 2002, Hurricanes Rita in 2005 and Gustav and Ike in 2008. But my disaster response plan was in my head. Portia came in and advised me to put my plan down on paper," said Gobert. "With a written plan, I was able to better communicate with my employees and convey to them what my vision was in case of a disruption in the business."

For more information about this program, contact Portia Metoyer at (337) 475-5541 or by email at pmetoyer@lsbdc.org.