Climate Change Preparedness and the Small Business Sector

Small businesses can suffer lasting economic damage from a single extreme weather event. Unlike larger businesses, they lack access to capital, often operate from a single storefront, and are heavily dependent on the local community for business activity. Prepared by the Small Business Majority and the American Sustainable Business Council, this report includes case studies on how small businesses across a range of sectors have incorporated climate change resilience into their business planning and management.

Sobering statistics in the report support the need for climate preparedness: the median cost of downtime from a small business affected by an extreme weather event is $3,000 per day, and an estimated 25% of small to mid-sized businesses do not reopen following a major disaster. However, 57% of small businesses have no disaster recovery plan. 

After providing a brief background on why and how small businesses should consider climate adaptation, the report presents the following case studies:

  • Massachusetts green roof company advises governmental clients that seek solutions to excess stormwater runoff
  • South Carolina chamber of commerce uses signs to demonstrate to the public how climate change may change downtown footprint
  • Boston hotel consulting group provides expertise to small hotels on renovation, retrofit and redesign of vulnerable buildings
  • Nebraska landscape architect advises clients on storm-resilient plantings
  • California farm invests in irrigated pasture
  • Brooklyn, New York manufacturer uses crowdsource campaigns to aid with post-Superstorm Sandy recovery and facility resilience planning

The report concludes by recommending that small businesses develop a business continuity plan, work with state and local officials to better understand financial incentives for climate preparedness, and advocate for climate change mitigation and adaptation policy.


Publication Date: July 2013

Author or Affiliated User:

  • Lea Reynolds

Related Organizations:

  • Small Business Majority
  • American Sustainable Business Council


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Case study


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User Comments:

  • May 4, 2017
    Jessica Grannis, Coastal Resilience Director at National Audubon Society

    This report has an excellent summary of the risks posed by climate change to small businesses. It also has excellent case studies about small businesses around the country that are using climate change as an opportunity to provide climate-resilience services that are in increasing demand - like building, designing and maintaining green stormwater management infrastructure.