OAKLAND, Calif. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region IX office today hosted its first regional leadership private sector conference entitled "What's In It for Us?" The one-day event brought together more than 150 private and public sector representatives such as Cisco Systems, Target, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), the California Emergency Management Agency, to map strategies for closer coordination in jointly preparing for and responding to disasters.
"FEMA's collaboration with the private sector is not new," said FEMA Region IX Administrator Nancy Ward. "But the goal of this conference is to help take those vital relationships to the next level before, during and after a disaster. Government alone cannot effectively handle every aspect of a disaster, and it is time we planned accordingly."
The conference, held at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building, Edward R. Royal Auditorium & Conference Center in downtown Oakland, drew heavily on area tech companies and local governments for presentations and workshops to address two timely questions in public/private sector collaboration: How can partnering with local, county or state government add to the bottom line of helping a business to plan for, respond to and recover from a disaster; and what are the existing success models of private sector and government interactions?
Following a lively and well received day of activities capped by a frank question and answer session, Ward said of the conference, which she anticipates will be replicated in other FEMA regions, "it is one example of how FEMA is engaging the "Whole Community". When we use the "whole community" term, it's not only government and private industry we are referring to, but non-profits, faith-based communities, that must be allowed a more robust role by having a seat at the table of emergency planning, response and recovery."
FEMA's mission is to support our 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, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.