SBA Honors Missouri Public Official For Outstanding Joplin Disaster Recovery Efforts

Jun 03, 2013, 16:28 ET from U.S. Small Business Administration

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce President Rob O'Brian will receive the U.S. Small Business Administration's Phoenix Award for his outstanding contribution to disaster recovery in his role as a public official in the aftermath of the tornado that devastated Joplin two years ago.


The award will be presented to O'Brian during a breakfast event held in Washington, D.C. June 21, during National Small Business Week. Since 1998, the SBA has presented the Phoenix Award to business owners, public officials and volunteers who displayed selflessness, ingenuity and tenacity in the aftermath of a disaster, while contributing to the rebuilding of their communities.

On May 22, 2011, the Joplin tornado destroyed or badly damaged more than 550 businesses. A huge portion of the city's tax base was reduced to rubble, and more than 5,000 jobs were in danger of being lost. After securing space for the SBA's Business Recovery Center (BRC), Rob directed his staff to canvass the hardest hit areas and make phone calls to find out what each business needed to recover.  Within three weeks, O'Brian and his team had talked to more than 420 business owners, steering most of them to the SBA's BRC where they could apply for SBA disaster loans, and get counseling on how to build a more resilient business. 

O'Brian maintained constant contact with government officials and private-sector partners who would ultimately help with Joplin's long-term rebuilding. The chamber also sponsored business recovery expos that covered topics including business plan development, overcoming post-disaster rebuilding challenges, and tips on starting a new business.   Today, out of the 553 businesses at risk of closing after the tornado, 500 of those companies are operating.  More than 90 percent of the jobs impacted by the storm remain in place. And remarkably, 40 new businesses have opened.

"The Phoenix Award is an acknowledgment of heroic work and a recognition of the contributions made to disaster recovery," said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills.  "Rob O'Brian displayed tremendous courage and resourcefulness in the aftermath of the Joplin tornado, and he exemplifies the spirit one must have to rebuild after a disaster like this."  

The Phoenix Awards will be presented June 21, 2013.  Events on the schedule will be available for viewing through SBA's free, live webcasting, which will be accessible at  Interested parties can register online at the same site, where additional information (updated weekly) is available regarding registration, awards ceremonies, small business forums and educational and matchmaking sessions. 

Additional information on National Small Business Week, including the schedule and registration information, is available at

The SBA makes low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses and non-profit organizations of all sizes.  More information about the disaster assistance program is available at

Every year since 1963, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight through National Small Business Week the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories.  This year's events will be held June 16‑21, in Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. offering tips, tools and trainings for small businesses to start, succeed and grow.  In addition to in-person events, small business owners can participate in online-only panel discussions on hot topics like social media and business financing starting daily at 4pm ET. All events, in-person and online, will be streamed live on Also, visit this site for a full schedule of events and additional information. The event hashtag is #SBW2013.

The U.S. Small Business Administration's participation in this cosponsored activity does not constitute an express or implied endorsement of any cosponsor's, donor's, grantee's, contractor's or participant's opinions, products, or services. All SBA programs and cosponsored programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made, if requested at least 2 weeks in advance, by contacting Cosponsorship Authorization #SBW2013.

Release Date: June 3, 2013

Media Contact: Richard Jenkins

Release Number: MO 12576-10

Phone: (916) 735-1500

SOURCE U.S. Small Business Administration