Climate Change Preparedness and the Small Business Sector

Climate Change Preparedness and the Small Business Sector

American Sustainable Business Council
Small Business Majority
July 25, 2013
U.S. small businesses – widely recognized as the backbone of the U.S. economy – are particularly at risk from extreme weather and climate change and must take steps to adapt, according to a new report from Small Business Majority (SBM) and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC).
Titled Climate Change Preparedness and the Small Business Sector,” the report concludes: “Because small businesses are distinctly critical to the U.S. economy, and at the same time uniquely vulnerable to damage from extreme weather events, collective actions by the small business community could have an enormous impact on insulating the U.S. economy from climate risk.”
From page 8 & 9 of the report:
Frank Knapp, Jr., CEO, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, and Sandra Bridges, Co-Owner, Palmetto Hammock & Resort Shoppe

Charleston, South Carolina

Frank Knapp, Jr., President and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, is leading an initiative throughout coastal South Carolina to educate the public on the vulnerability of the area’s local economy to sea level rise, which is predicted to rise 6 feet by 2100, according to NOAA. Knapp’s initiative, known as South Carolina Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (SCBARS), stems from the economic impact that sea level rise could have on this region, and includes grassroots advocacy efforts to garner support from local businesses.  The initiative, of which ASBC is a partner, educates the public by visibly illustrating with signs in local neighborhoods where sea level could reach by 2100. SCBARS encourages tourists to be local advocates for preserving the South Carolina coast.
One local business that Knapp has worked with is Palmetto Hammock & Resort Shoppe, a retail store selling outdoor equipment, apparel and accessories in the historic market district of Charleston, SC.  Palmetto Hammock is jointly owned by Carl Dupree and Sandra Bridges, and was established in 2003.
Bridges’ smallbusiness is located in a favorite shopping area for both residents and tourists, and is housed in a freestanding building with 1,000 square feet of retail display space. According to Knapp, the building Palmetto Hammock is located in is projected to have four feet of sea water at high tide at the end of the century. To raise awareness about this risk for tourists and other businesses in downtown Charleston, Bridges has posted a sign on her store’s front door, and blue tape that indicates the level at which the sea could reach by 2100.
For Bridges, there is little she can do to prepare her business for the potential physical impacts of sea level rise, but participating in Knapp’s SCBARS’ effort is one way to bring attention to the issue and its possible impact on tourism and local business in Charleston.

With more than 190 miles of coastline and 600,000 acres of tidal wetlands, South Carolina is especially susceptible to the effects of sea level rise and storm surge due to hurricanes and tropical storms. The state’s beaches and coastal communities are critical to South Carolina’s economic well-being, providing recreational opportunities, commercial port access, commercial fisheries, and a foundation for the state’s flourishing tourism economy.

In fact, a 2010 report to the Environmental Protection Agency reported that tourism has emerged as South Carolina’s primary growth industry, and state economic officials estimate that one job is created for every 120 visitors. Tourists to the Grand Strand, Hilton Head, and Charleston areas alone account for approximately $5 billion of the $9 billion spent by tourists in the state each year.
Bridges notes that while tourists are not currently bothered by wading through the occasional flood, attitudes may change if this becomes a more frequent or severe occurrence.