Keeping Local Economies Safe: The Role of Economic Development Plans in Hazards Resilience
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When communities suffer the impacts of a natural disaster, damage to the local economy can keep the community in a state of crisis long after the disaster itself. Although this threat has considerable implications for communities, it is unclear which organizations or entities have the responsibility and capacity to address economic vulnerability to hazards. Economic development and emergency management are often isolated from each other, resulting in emergency plans that do not serve the business community as well as they might otherwise, and economic development plans that do not address business needs related to disasters. One way to think about strengthening the local economy and reducing its vulnerability to disruption from hazards is through the lens of resilience, or the ability of a system to anticipate, absorb, recover from and adapt to stresses. This study explores the potential role of economic development plans in addressing the resilience of local economies to natural hazards. Through the evaluation of ten economic development plans from a three-‐county region and supporting interviews, this study analyzes how well economic development plans currently address economic resilience to hazards, and how they might address it in the future. The results indicate that economic development plans have an overall existing alignment with resilience principles that can be built upon both within the plans themselves and through supporting activities.