City of Cambridge Business Continuity & Emergency Preparedness Planning

MAPC and the City of Cambridge Community Development Department (CDD) partnered in February 2015 to develop post-emergency business continuity and emergency preparedness strategies for small businesses in Cambridge.
All businesses are vulnerable to both natural and man-made disasters, but businesses that have prepared and made recovery plans survive with comparatively minimal loss and/or disruption of productivity. Unfortunately, such planning does not happen regularly. As reported by the Small Business Administration, only 26 percent of small and medium-size businesses have disaster preparedness plans in place. Accordingly, it is not surprising that 40-60 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. Private sector entities must establish procedures to ensure continuity and recovery for small businesses following disasters.
Emergencies that small businesses may face include anything from fire to power outage to a major weather event. To help businesses plan for such circumstances, MAPC and the Cambridge CDD held a series of five planning workshops for small business owners. The workshops introduced the steps business owners can take to prepare for an emergency and recover quickly after one occurs. These workshops also served to launch the Cambridge CDD Business Emergency Preparedness Website to the public. This site is a resource for businesses that showcases MAPC’s best practice research on small business emergency preparedness efforts nationwide. The resources available on the site will help businesses to prepare for emergencies and make recovery plans allowing them to survive incidents with minimal loss and disruption.
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Through this project, MAPC conducted research on best practices regarding disaster planning for businesses, insurance and financing needs for small businesses, and the role of a municipality in business disaster recovery. MAPC found that creating emergency response plans, testing them, and ensuring that proper insurance coverage is in place should be the highest pre-disaster priorities for small businesses. Immediately following a disaster, small businesses must assess the current situation, implement emergency communications plans, document damages, and determine the financial impacts of the disaster upon business operations. As a complement to this research, MAPC also reached out to local business associations within the City to determine current preparedness levels of small businesses in Cambridge.


As a key next step to help facilitate preparedness planning and swift emergency recovery in the Cambridge business community MAPC recommended that the City research the possibility of establishing an economic recovery team. This team would work to ensure that the important services local businesses offer the community are available shortly after an emergency.

Nicholas Kraft
Grant Contracts Coordinator
Metropolitan Area Planning Council
60 Temple Place, 6th floor
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 933-0768

For more information about emergency preparedness planning please contact:

Amy Reilly
Manager, Statewide Homeland Security Program
Metropolitan Area Planning Council

Phone: (617) 933-0765
Fax: (617) 482-7185

References & Further Reading

United States Small Business Administration

Federal Emergency Management Agency
Educational site run by the SBA and Agility Recovery featuring Webinars on disaster preparedness for small businesses.

All photos courtesy of FEMA.