Community Economic Preparedness

The Center for Urban Rural Interface Studies (CURIS) was established in 2005 to address sustainable development and disaster preparedness needs in rural communities. The CURIS Region includes 20 counties and parishes in four of the five coastal states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Because of the location, these states experience a wide range of natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts and wildfires. CURIS set about the task to determine whether communities which are actively engaged in pursuing proactive steps toward economic resilience possess local economies which are resilient to the effects of natural disasters, and thus experience quick financial and physical recovery.

The proposed approach to determine community economic preparedness will be based on the economic development preparedness index developed by the University of Wisconsin Extension and the data standards developed by the International Economic Development Commission. Community Economic Preparedness involves communities actively engaged in pursuing fundamental steps toward economic resilience and disaster management.  Communities with local economies which are resilient to the effects of natural disaster will experience quick financial and physical recovery. The Community Economic Preparedness Index measures a county’s or parish’s economic preparedness level based on fifteen different categories:

economic development plan, effective zoning ordinances, industrial site capabilities, separate development organization, commercial development capabilities, small business development, community infrastructure, utilities capabilities, education access/quality, financial support available, strength of tourism boards, abilities/availability of labor force, natural disaster susceptibility, quality of life, and local government structure. 

Each of these variables is then given a numeric value which is used to give each county or parish an overall economic preparedness score representing the current level of economic preparedness.