Palm Beach County’s Business and Industry Program has three primary components for engaging the private sector in strengthening business and community preparedness and helping to build more disaster resilient communities. They are:
Business & Industry Support Unit (ESF18)
The Business & Industry Unit (aka ESF 18) is the primary local support function within the county’s government-centric emergency activation structure focusing on matters involving business and industry interests. The Unit is activated for emergencies and disasters that require coordinated local response. The level of support varies depending on the magnitude and type of incident.
The purpose of the Business & Industry Unit is to disseminate and coordinate information, resources and capabilities among and within the appropriate private and public sector agencies and organizations in order to enhance business disaster preparedness and facilitate post disaster business, economic and community recovery.
The exchange of timely information between the private and public sectors before, during and after disaster events is a major responsibility of the Business & Industry program.
Coordination of local, state and federal business assistance is accomplished primarily through interagency collaboration and networks of local and regional business, economic development, workforce, and tourism development partners.
When assistance needs exceed local capabilities, the Business & Industry Unit serves as the primary communication and coordination link with the State ESF18 and with local, regional, state, and federal agencies and with private sector and business-related governmental partner organizations.
Key unit objectives include:
- Ensure business interests are appropriately represented in local emergency management processes.
- Promote community and economic resiliency through pre and post disaster actions intended to minimize business closures, failures and interruptions and optimize the use of private sector resources to support and accelerate economic recovery.
- Using the full array of private and public sector capabilities, serve as the primary disaster information gateway between the emergency management community and the business community and between local and state business-related agencies.
- Assist business preparedness, business continuity decisions, and business recovery efforts through the timely distribution of pre and post event information (via flash reports, situation reports, advisories, webinar summaries, warnings, damage reports, etc.), utilizing all available capabilities and systems of the Private-Public Partnership for distribution and collection.
- Input, track and follow up on business-related assistance requests and missions employing the WebEOC system and coordinate with other sections, the Executive Policy Group, the Private-Public Partnership, and other business partner organizations to facilitate effective and timely resolution.
- Promote and facilitate economic resilience and recovery through the optimized use of local and regional business resources and capabilities wherever possible.
- Coordinate outside private and public sector assistance services through the State ESF18, the Private-Public Partnership network, the Business Continuity Information Network (BCIN) and/or directly when local capabilities are exhausted, inadequate or unavailable.
- Enhance Business & Industry Unit performance through education, training, exercises and other outreach activities.
Since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami Dade and Monroe counties have experimented with various forms of public-private partnerships. While effective, the missions, memberships, and accomplishments of these partnerships were modest and informal. As the case for private sector engagement in all stages of disaster management has grown, it became apparent that the resources and capabilities of the public, private and non-government sectors could be better leveraged through cross-county collaboration, coordination, resource sharing, and communication. As one member pointed out, “disasters do not respect jurisdictional boundaries.”
In 2010 the four counties above joined forces to create a regional four county umbrella partnership. County-specific initiatives continue, however, in addition to regional initiatives.