Business Recovery Begins in Joplin After Tornadoes

After recent tornadoes devastated the Missouri town of Joplin, small business owners who either suffered damage to their property or lost their businesses altogether during the natural disaster had to face a shocking reality — could they recover, and if so, how?

According to a recent Neosho Daily News article by Wes Franklin, one such business owner was Dr. Bill Cook, whose Joplin dental office near St. John’s hospital was leveled. And even though he was insured, Cook decided to start the rebuilding process by visiting the recently opened Business Recovery Center in Joplin. The center was sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration and local entities and is designed to provide financial services to businesses impacted by the tornado. The center will be open for a minimum of six weeks.

“It was a total loss,” Cook said, as quoted by the Neosho Daily News. “I’m wanting to see if I might get some help covering anything that isn’t covered by insurance and maybe some help with the deductibles as well.”

While Mark and Becky Sosnowski’s automotive business wasn’t damaged by the tornado, they are worried about their businesses’ sustainability after the disaster. The Sosnowski’s wondered how their business would survive. “I don't know if we're going to have a business anymore,” she said in the article.

According to the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, about 300 businesses in the city were destroyed by the tornado, and approximately 4,000 people were out of a job. The center provides business owners a place to go to receive business-related counseling and opportunities for disaster loans.

SBA spokesman Mark Randall said business owners should register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency before visiting the business recovery center. At that point, SBA reps meet with each business owner to help them complete their application, gather necessary documentation, and help them submit their application. Once the application is approved, reps also help the business owner close the loan at the center. There are no fees or obligations attached to the loans.

Lisa Robinson, with the Small Business and Technology Development Center at the Missouri Southern State University, which is a partner in the business recovery center, said they offer counseling and help to small businesses. After a disaster, businesses sometimes need help creating a Website to inform customers of their status, recreating financial statements, navigating through the rebuilding process, or even relocation.

For more information about how small businesses are recovering from the Joplin tornado, visit: