IEDC is proud to announce the release of a revised Leadership in a Time of Crisis toolkit. The toolkit was developed by IEDC with nationwide input and funded in part by grants from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, the Toolkit is designed to benefit a wide range of public and private sector officials working with businesses and industries in the economic recovery process including economic development organizations (EDOs), Chambers of Commerce, business leaders, small business development centers (SBDC), community colleges and business schools, community development financing institutions (CDFIs), and other organizations that provide support to businesses.

Leadership in Times of Crisis’ provides strategies and tactics for community leaders to focus on for economic recovery and preserving jobs, incorporating useful information for convening private and public stakeholders to identify key economic recovery strategies, tips on how to navigate federal resources for response and recovery, and implementation of recovery initiatives. The revised toolkit has updated strategies, information, and a chapter on Infrastructure & Building Back Better. 


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Click on the headings below to download each individual chapter.

Chapter I – Introduction

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This chapter provides an overview of the potential economic impacts of a disaster and reviews how economic development practitioners can prepare for recovery.  It discusses some critical disaster preparedness efforts and how even the smallest of actions can put your community in a better position to respond and shorten your community’s recovery time. Finally, the chapter reviews essential initiatives to spur recovery in a local economy, including the development and implementation of a recovery plan, and efforts to communicate with and retain local businesses after a disaster occurs. This chapter highlights best practices from disaster-impacted communities that have successfully achieved recovery efforts.

Chapter II – Disaster Risk Management

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In the last 50 years, the number of presidentially declared disasters has dramatically increased, and local communities and states are recognizing their inability to respond to these crises given their local resources. Not only have disasters become more frequent in recent years, but their impacts have become more costly. This chapter gives an overview of the stages of a disaster as well as the framework of the federal response.

Chapter III – Disaster Preparation Measures – Building Capacity for Recovery

Click here to download – Chapter III – Disaster Preparation Measures– Building Capacity for Recovery

Because all communities are vulnerable to some form of disaster or emergency situation, all communities should prepare to protect their local economies from the effects of a disaster. This chapter explores how localities – and economic development organizations and chambers of commerce in particular – can develop their own capacity to respond to and recover from a disaster.

Chapter IV – Small Business Assistance

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Small businesses are often more financially vulnerable than large businesses in the wake of a disaster. Yet, small businesses are the backbone of a local economy, employing nearly 68 million workers, which is approximately half of all private-sector jobs.  Thus, EDOs and chambers need to ensure that small businesses are connected to additional assistance, particularly in terms of capital and technical assistance needs. In this chapter, we discuss the importance of quickly responding to the small business needs, with a focus on how to establish a business recovery center, which provides the structure and the location for delivering much of this needed technical and financial assistance.

Chapter V -Business Retention and Expansion Before and After a Disaster

Click here to download – Chapter V – Business Retention and Expansion Before and After a Disaster

Business retention and expansion (BRE) is one of the key practices of any EDO. This chapter is intended to discuss critical actions that must be taken to retain local businesses after a disaster strikes. Existing relationships with businesses are crucial during a disaster as communication channels can become disrupted and chaotic. The chapter focuses on the critical needs for multiple outreach methods that EDO and chamber staff can use to care for impacted businesses, to gather information on how they’ve been impacted and then to use that information as a means for providing them critical business assistance.

Chapter VI – Assessing the Economic Impacts of a Major Disaster

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Compared to a Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) or a state impact study, an economic impact studies conducted following a major disaster provides significantly more details on both the immediate and long term repercussions of a disaster in terms of jobs, industry and business impacts, and other economic indicators. This chapter provides insight into the components of a post-disaster economic impact study, how to develop and fund the study, and other useful advice when implementing the assessment process.

Chapter VII – Crisis Communication

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Traditional channels of communication are almost always compromised following a major disaster. Businesses struggle with getting in touch with their employees, their vendors, and their customers – as well as their local chamber or EDO. They don’t always know who to trust, and rumors and misinformation can spread quickly. Economic development organizations and chambers of commerce must communicate well in a crisis, since businesses are likely to contact them first for information to make important decisions.

Chapter VIII -Federal System

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This chapter is intended to help guide local and state economic recovery stakeholders — including economic development organizations, local and state government agencies, chambers of commerce, economic development districts, and other recovery officials — through some of the resources presented by the federal government. Local communities can use the information to better understand what to expect when working with the federal government and to expedite connecting with the appropriate federal resources for economic recovery.

Chapter IX – Strategic Planning for Disaster Recovery

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Economic development organizations and chambers of commerce are uniquely positioned in the community to facilitate a strategic planning process for economic recovery – both before and after a disaster. Through their established connections with local businesses, they can coordinate involvement and leverage resources from the business community and are likely to take a leadership role in facilitating job recovery. This chapter provides guidance to EDOs and business organizations in the strategic planning process for disaster preparedness and economic recovery to stabilize the community’s economic base after a disaster.

Chapter X – Infrastructure & Building Back Better

Click here to download -Chapter X - Infrastructure & Building Back Better

Among the many challenges in recovering from a disaster is repairing and redeveloping damaged buildings and infrastructure. Depending on the type and scale of disaster, infrastructure damage may be underground (water pipes, natural gas lines or telecommunications cables), above ground (electricity lines, bridges, roads, levees and water treatment plants), or both. This chapter reviews how economic development organizations and alike can ensure infrastructure is built back better.

Chapter XI – Neighborhood Revitalization Post-Disaster

Click here to download – Chapter XI – Neighborhood Revitalization Post-Disaster

This chapter introduces the challenges and opportunities that accompany the revitalization of a neighborhood as well as neighborhood beautification and local communication needs. It also outlines an extensive recovery processes, designed to improve the neighborhood beyond the original state.

Chapter XII – Economic Diversification After a Disaster

Click here to download – Chapter XII – Economic Diversification After a Disaster

Amidst the chaos, a post-disaster situation can present an opportunity for change. This chapter will cover economic diversification as both a recovery strategy and a tool for communities to increase their resiliency for future disasters. The first part of the chapter will discuss the steps for creating and planning for an economic diversification strategy. The second part will delve into economic diversification strategies and how to implement them.

Case Study and Resource Appendices

Click here to download – Case Study and Resource Appendices

These appendices include ten in-depth case studies of places that have been impacted by disasters and have recovered to be stronger and more economically resilient. The Resource Appendix includes many templates for strategies and assessments suggested in the toolkit.



This research project was accomplished through multiple grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)’s Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Austin regional offices.  The statements, findings, conclusions, recommendations, and other data in this report are solely those of IEDC and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The first edition(this is the second edition) was part of a larger compendium of research and technical assistance produced by IEDC and funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Austin Regional Office, which focuses on long-term economic recovery of disaster-impacted Gulf Coast communities in southeast Texas and Louisiana. IEDC greatly appreciates input and assistance received from its members and stakeholders who participated in research and interviews for this report, and would like to acknowledge those who contributed greatly to the content of this report.


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