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Decreasing Vulnerability for our Beach-Based Businesses

About this Project

Sea-level rise and extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change impact Maines coastline and are anticipated to increase in frequency and strength. Beach-based businesses, a powerful economic engine for Maine, are generally little-prepared for storm surge and coastal flooding. Yet lessons learned from previous disasters underscore that the recovery of businesses is critical to the overall recovery of a regions economy.

This project adapts and transfers the Tourism Resilience Index, previously developed for the Gulf of Mexico by the Mississippi Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, to Southern Maine. The Wells Reserve helped coastal businesses in Kennebunkport and Kennebunk to assess their ability to maintain operations during and after a disaster. 

Project Resources

Tourism Resilience Resources (for businesses)

The following resources are provided to assist in building a more resilient business. There are templates for creating a business plan, visualization tools to help assess risk, and best practices to guide future long-term planning efforts. In addition to these resources, check with your local and regional chambers of commerce and destination marketing organizations. 

  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist, and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. Writing a business plan guidance. They provide business planning tools. The SBA partnered with Agility Recovery Solutions to create Prepare My Business, which has easy to follow plans to prepare your business for rapid recovery after a disaster. 
  • Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) conducts objective, scientific research to identify and promote the most effective ways to strengthen homes, businesses and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss. They developed the Open for Business EZ Toolkit.
  • American Planning Association provides several resources on resilience and planning. View their Hazards Planning Center for projects and (purchase) additional resources on planning for post-disaster recovery. 
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency's mission is to support citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, revcover from and mitigate all hazards. Emergency Preparedness Resources for Businesses. FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS)

Project Period

June 2016 to June 2018

Anticipated Benefits

  • Southern Maine businesses will better understand how they can prepare for climate-related natural disasters.
  • Municipal decision makers will better understand how the local business community can become more resilient to natural disasters.
  • Business owners will become more engaged in climate adaptation dialogue and strategy.
Cover of document: Tourism Resilience Index

Project Approach

Using a collaborative approach that engages researchers and local business owners, the project team will adapt a Tourism Resilience Index for Southern Maine businesses. After the team completes pilot testing, a broader community of local business owners will complete facilitated self-assessments in Kennebunkport and Kennebunk, Maine. Participating businesses will be given their custom Tourism Resilience Index, or score, along with suggested steps they can take to increase resilience to natural disasters.

The project team will meet with these same businesses one year later to reassess and measure progress. The team will then aggregate the scores of participating businesses, and a summary of lessons learned will be shared with Southern Maine chambers of commerce, municipalities, and climate adaptation professionals. The project partners will also share strategies for adapting and using the Tourism Resilience Index in different regions. They will also highlight common gaps and barriers businesses encounter when planning to safeguard their risk to  to natural disasters.


  • New England business owners and climate adaptation practitioners will receive business self-assessments and corresponding implementation guidance.
  • Project partners and participants will receive and share the summary report of aggregated findings from participating businesses, including barriers and opportunities.
  • National Estuarine Research Reserve System, Regional business networks, climate adaptation providers, and municipal decision makers will receive outreach products and presentations. Social Coast 2018 Presentation here

Project Partners


For more information, contact Annie Cox at or (207) 646-1555 ext.157.


NERRS Science Collaborative

The National Estuarine Research Reserve Systems Science Collaborative supports collaborative research that addresses coastal management problems important to the reserves. The Science Collaborative is managed by the University of Michigans Water Center through a cooperative agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Funding for the research reserves and this program comes from NOAA. Learn more at or

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