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Volume 31, Issue 4

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When crisis strikes, businesses can get left out in the cold. The truth is many businesses simply cannot survive an extended outage caused by a crisis. That is why the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, located in Centennial, Colo., has created the Business Continuation and Communication Center. The center is designed to work with local authorities and operates based on the Incident Command System. More important, the center is a place where businesses can go to get critical help.

How The Center Works

The beauty of the center is the ease with which it is activated. The center is available to area businesses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contacting the chamber at office, cellular or home telephone numbers activates the center. Once activated, the chamber meeting area is prepared to receive the affected business and center operations commence when personnel arrive. The chamber meeting area is outfitted with extra telephone jacks and network ports.

Chamber services offered to businesses through the center include:

• A site for daily briefings;
• Connection to support services and local authorities;
• Temporary use of telephones, fax machines and computers;
• Mental health counseling, including management coaching;
• Extended partnering with a member business that will “adopt” dislocated businesses.

Model For Other Organizations

Business continuation and communication centers can be established at chambers of commerce and other similar organizations. The main ingredients are:

• The willingness to facilitate partnerships;
• An awareness program that provides vital information;
• A central location with sufficient office facilities where affected businesses can temporarily set up shop.

Although the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce consists of more than 1,700 businesses and government organizations, use of the center is not limited to its membership.

Any area business may activate the center. For the center kick-off, the chamber hosted a series of seminars designed to provide information to area businesses about center operations, business continuity practices and how local authorities respond to emergencies.

Why The Center Works

The center works mainly on a spirit of cooperation and partnering. Businesses are not charged any fees for the ability to use or activate the center. This enables smaller and medium-sized businesses, not able to afford hot site vendor services, to effectively prepare for extended outages. But in the final analysis, the spirit of partnership between business and local authorities makes the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce Business Continuation and Communication Center a success.

Gary Villeneuve, MBCP, is the president of Business Continuance Professionals, Inc. He is an advisory board member of Private and Public Businesses, Inc. (PPBI) and is a member of the Association of Contingency Planners (ACP) Colorado Rocky Mountain Chapter.