James Lee Witt to Speak at North Little Rock Chamber Banquet Tonight

by Mark Carter  on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 2:30 pm  

James Lee Witt (Photo by Mike Pirnique)

James Lee Witt, native Arkansan and former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will be the keynote speaker at the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce banquet Tuesday night.

Witt is the executive chairman of Witt O'Brien's, an international disaster management firm he founded in 2001. Formerly known as Witt & Associates, the firm merged with O'Brien's Recovery Management on Jan. 1. It is based in Washington D.C. but maintains a government relations office in Little Rock.

Witt will discuss disaster preparedness, how to be more resilient when faced with emergencies, and being proactive with long-term recovery plans, according to a company news release.

Since serving as FEMA director in the Clinton administration, Witt has become one of the world's most noted crisis experts. Currently, Witt O'Brien's is assisting in long-term recovery efforts in New Jersey related to Super Storm Sandy. Recent high-profile projects include conducting reviews of the Connecticutt utility outage in October 2010 and the Indiana State Fair structure collapse in August 2011.

Witt's chamber address will focus on the following statistics related to small businesses and disasters:

  • More than one in four small businesses will experience a 'significant crisis' – hurricane, wildfire, tornado, power outage, flash flood, cyber breach, etc. – in any given year. 
  • Nearly two-thirds of small businesses do not have an emergency plan in place for their business. 
  • At least 40 percent of businesses affected by a natural or man-made disaster never reopen. 
  • Putting a disaster plan in motion now will improve the likelihood that businesses and organizations will not only survive and recover themselves, but also help their neighbors and communities recover more quickly.

The banquet, which is sold out, will be held at Verizon Arena.



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