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Fifth National Climate Assessment - Read the Report

Exploring small and medium business resilience

Surveys of adaptation efforts adopted by businesses highlight opportunities for building resilience to complex climate events and other stressors.

Increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme climate and weather events put U.S. businesses at risk through closures, infrastructure damage, supply chain disruptions, and physical impacts on health and safety. The interaction among extreme events and other social and environmental stressors that affect U.S. businesses can lead to compound, simultaneous risks with impacts across multiple sectors that cause significant disruptions to livelihoods and the economy. NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program (RISA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Applied Economics Office are collaborating on a portfolio of social science projects exploring the ways small and medium businesses are resilient to and disrupted by the interaction of multiple hazards, known as complex events, focusing on how weather and climate events interact with other stressors, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Building on regional case studies conducted collaboratively between RISA teams and NIST exploring small and medium business resilience to climate events, NIST and NOAA are undertaking a national-scale longitudinal survey highlighting paths to learning about resilience, novel approaches to resilience and mitigation, inequities in impacts of complex events, and opportunities for recovery. This three-wave survey focuses on the ways small and medium businesses in areas subject to extreme climate and weather events are coping with COVID-19.

Early outcomes of Waves 1 and 2, completed in summer 2020 and winter 2020/2021, demonstrate that preparation for natural disasters (pre-pandemic) can help small and medium business resilience through the pandemic, and that minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses hit repeatedly by extreme events have significant challenges for recovery compared to others. Wave 3 data collection is scheduled to be completed by early 2022. These projects demonstrate the challenges to small and medium businesses for managing multiple events and the significance of long-term impacts on business recuperation, particularly in the context of social stressors and historical disenfranchisement.

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