After appearing before congress last Fall, I was once again recently asked to share my experiences before the federal government, as a small business owner in devastated Puerto Rico. Presenting to staff from the USDA and other agencies, I was honored to share the story of resilience and success from Puerto Rico companies.
I shared with them the challenges that Hurricane Maria brought to Wovenware, along with 40,000 other small businesses in Puerto Rico. Challenges such as a lack of communication; no power for months on end; and daily struggles for water, gasoline and other life necessities.
But more importantly than the challenges, I shared with them the steps we took to build resilience and keep our business and employees moving forward. I talked about how we supported our employees with things like a communication plan for sharing vital information, flex time and regular pay.
I also discussed office safety and operations measures, such as establishing a safety plan, establishing temporary office locations when we had no power in our office; and using a back-up power generator and communication lines.
I shared how we implemented a disaster recovery plan, including sending staff to work onsite at mainland customer locations, and communicating daily with customers.
We also discussed the challenges small business in Puerto Rico face working with the federal government and ways to improve them.
What really resonated with our presentation was that our situation in Puerto Rico demonstrated the perseverance and resilience of our small businesses; how committed we are to our customers; how we continue to perform despite harsh conditions; and how we have withstood the harshest of tests.
I was honored to be asked to share our story before the USDA, and our views on how we can better work with the federal government. I’m confident that with more opportunities for federal contracts, not only will the local economy benefit, but the country as a whole.