Joplin small businesses present recovery work to Senate panel
McCaskill and Senate committee get input from Missourians about their experiences helping to rebuild community after deadly tornado
September 15, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two southwest Missouri residents involved with federal disaster recovery efforts discussed their federal emergency response contracting experiences with U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and a Senate committee at a hearing today.
Many federal agencies, particularly the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, carry out emergency response activities through contracts with private businesses for services including debris removal, reconstruction, and provision of supplies. Today’s joint hearing of the Senate Small Business Committee and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee focused on opportunities and challenges for small businesses working with the federal government on disaster recovery contracts—particularly in response to the May tornado that devastated Joplin, and Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.
Senators heard from Terri Bennett, Program Manager for the Heartland Procurement Technical Assistance Center, as well as Sid Davis, President of Big John’s Heavy Equipment, a second-generation southwest Missouri small business.
McCaskill introduced Bennett and Davis as “two of our many heroes that we have in Joplin.”
“I know you’ll learn from the people of Joplin,” said McCaskill, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. “I always learn from the people of Joplin… And I’ve been proud to try to assist in any way I can. And we continue to be here for you guys. And as the Chairman will tell you, the hardest part about a recovery is not in the weeks right after. The hardest part is making those commitments be real months and months after the tragedy has occurred—long after the cameras have cleared. So I’m here for the long haul, as I know the community of Joplin is.”
Bennett’s Heartland Procurement Technical Assistance Center is housed at Missouri Southern State University, a site that served as an emergency triage area and shelter in the days following the tornado. Davis and his employees at Big John’s were among the dozens of small businesses that began working as volunteers in the immediate aftermath of the tornado, removing debris and performing search and rescue operations.
Both witnesses testified to the Senate panel on issues ranging from communications between the local business community, FEMA, and the Army Corps of Engineers, to the bidding process for contracts. McCaskill cited her hope that the lessons learned from both Joplin and Hurricane Katrina can be put to use in future disasters.
Video of McCaskill’s statement to the Committee is available HERE.
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