Best Practices

Round Up: The Role of Entrepreneurs in Economic Disaster Recovery

Published Dec 14, 2017

The Role of Entrepreneurs in Economic Disaster Recovery
With Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico, the United States has been hit hard by natural disasters destroying infrastructures, economies and lives. How do we rebuild after such tragic disasters?

Entrepreneurship can be both a catalyst and part of the answer.

Faced with extreme damage and diminished resources, entrepreneurship allows a community hit by a natural disaster to come together and creatively solve problems. And because entrepreneurship is place and culture based, who else is best to rebuild than entrepreneurs who understand local needs, dynamics and opportunities?

In this roundup, we’ve put together a collection of articles addressing how communities have used innovative thinking and entrepreneurship as a pathway to economic recovery.

“The same wind blows on us all; the winds of disaster, opportunity and change. Therefore, it is not the blowing of the wind, but the setting of the sails that will determine our direction in life.” Jim Rohn

Japan’s Challenge: An Entrepreneurial Approach to Disaster Recovery, Taro Sato, 2012, Kauffman Fellows
Following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Kauffman fellow Taro Sato presents an argument that by empowering young people and innovators to take the lead in recovery, a “more human-centered, innovation-driven, and agile reconstruction path” is possible and preferred over traditional public-sector driven methodologies.

After devastating tornado, town is reborn 'green', Patrick Quinn, 04/2013, USA Today

The small, rural town known as Greensburg, Kansas, was almost completely destroyed by a tornado 10 years ago. Rebuilding required innovative thinking and putting aside traditional mindsets. Now it's the world's leading community in LEED-certified buildings per capita, also inspiring a television series and several books.

How entrepreneurship can support post-disaster recovery, Caroline Baxter Tresise, 05/2017, Oxfam
What impact does social entrepreneurship have on a city destroyed by a tsunami? Through a resurgence of coffee shops, the once devastated city is now a hub for innovation. Don’t miss the inspirational TEDx video at the bottom of the article!

Make Disaster Recovery a Success, Virgil Henry Storr and Stefanie Haeffele, 07/2016, U.S. News

This article takes a look at the red tape and delayed recovery with programs that operate in a top-down system. Noteworthy quote, “We should recognize the inherent limitations of top-down recovery programs and should encourage the people who know the affected area the best, the local entrepreneurs and community leaders, to lead change from the bottom up.”

When Disaster Strikes, Entrepreneurs React in Surprising Ways, Mark Henricks, 02/2016, Business News Daily
In this interview with Javier Monllor of DePaul University, he suggests that “policy that encourages entrepreneurial action can have a very positive impact on the community by accelerating recovery efforts.”

What can natural disasters teach us about economic development?, Dee Gill, 08/2016, Chicago Booth Review
Using historical examples, Dee views disasters as catalysts of forcing communities to rethink traditional methods of economic development. We’re asked to question why we’re often resistant to progress. 



Director of SourceLink Rob Williams 
Rob Williams
is the director of SourceLink where he puts the “serve” in customer service, always available as support to SourceLink clients who are often the unsung entrepreneurial champions in their communities.