Leadership / Management

3 years after Katrina, small biz gets a boost from CPAs

PenderIt’s been three years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

We’re all familiar with the heartbreaking toll the storm took on residents of those areas, but it was almost as devastating on small businesses. By some estimates, nearly 120,000 jobs were lost as a result of the storm, and about 20,000 small businesses remain closed to this day.

The response from volunteers was tremendous in the days and weeks immediately following the storm, but it has tapered off significantly since then, which is sad, because so many people still need help. Three years later, the need is still there.

CPAs, though, haven’t forgotten. Tom Pender is the director of Finance and Administration at the North Carolina Association of CPAs. In November 2007, Pender and 10 other CPAs traveled to New Orleans to offer advice and guidance to small businesses that had been crushed by the storm. Their stories – and the stories of the people they helped – are featured in a moving AICPA documentary called “When The Winds Stopped Blowing.”

And since then, the team of volunteer CPAs has grown and offered its services to Gulfport businesses in May, then returned to New Orleans for more work in July. And plans are in the works for another trip to New Orleans in November.

I saw the AICPA’s documentary at a recent conference in New Orleans and thought the work these volunteer CPAs are doing is worth sharing with all of you, so I sat down with Pender and asked him to describe the project. Pender described the project's work in detail in this CPA Spotlight podcast.

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Are you and your company ready for the next natural disaster? What are you doing to prepare?


Bill Sheridan