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Meet Melissa Watson, Helping Small Businesses Rebuild their Dreams in Office of Disaster Assistance

Meet Melissa Watson, Helping Small Businesses Rebuild their Dreams in Office of Disaster Assistance

By janied
Published: February 24, 2012

When a friend or family member asks what you do to help small businesses, what do you say?

I’m the Administrative Officer at the Customer Service Center for the Office of Disaster Assistance.  Our Department provides support functions for the Center.  This includes making sure our employees who help the disaster victims/businesses get paid.  We also assist in the coordination of traveling employees to disaster sites as well as the day-to-day office functions for our Center. The Office of Disaster Assistance offers financial assistance to businesses of all sizes to repair or replace damage from major catastrophes, such as hurricanes, flooding, and earthquakes. 

What’s your favorite thing about what the SBA does for small businesses?

Working for Disaster Assistance, I would have to say helping our small businesses rebuild their dreams after being affected by a disaster. It is truly rewarding and gratifying to be a part of a team that works so hard and cares so much about our customers. 

Is there a particular small business “success story” that comes to mind when you think about how the SBA helps people?

There are so many. The time period that sticks out the most for me was during 9/11.  I remember being at our switchboard helping direct calls from small business owners in New York City and Washington, DC.  This was a time that our nation was in turmoil.  We had business owners calling in literally crying on the phone because there was absolutely nothing left of their businesses at the World Trade Center.  They were in shock and overwhelmed and not sure where to begin to rebuild or if they even could rebuild.  The best part was when we would receive letters from these distraught business owners, thanking us for being there for them in their time of need so they could get them back on their feet.

Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs and small business owners out there?

Follow your dream.  There are a lot of people out there with creative and innovative ideas who lack the confidence to pursue them. You will never know unless you try! And of course, be prepared for a disaster. Be sure that your assets are protected and you have an emergency plan in place for when, not if, disaster strikes.

Anything else to add?  Keep a positive attitude.



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