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Businesses Helping Businesses Weather Miami Valley Tornadoes' Aftermath

Storm-damaged building on North Fairfield Road in Beavercreek
Mike Frazier
A storm-damaged building on North Fairfield Road in Beavercreek

Last week’s Memorial Day tornadoes affected more than 200 businesses across Montgomery, Greene and Mercer Counties.

It’s unclear exactly how many people are out of work as a result of the disaster. Economic development officials are coordinating with city and county officials in hard-hit areas in an effort to identify displaced workers, and to help businesses whose employees are missing work as a result of storm damage to their homes or apartments. 

"We don't have official numbers right now on how many employees are affected," says the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Holly Allen. 

Allen says many Dayton-area employers are still struggling with a lack of internet and other basic business necessities after the storm, and some may need answers to complicated human resources questions.  

"And I can tell you that already some of our businesses have taken different approaches to human resources. Some of them have told me that they've communicated with their employees that they can commit to, let's say the end of the month that they will receive a paycheck, while they take a moment to figure out how they're going to deal with whatever kind of damage they've suffered." 

The chamber is compiling resources for affected businesses from members with HR expertise.

Other organizations in Dayton's business community are also marshalling assistance for employers. 

Mitch Heaton, vice president for economic development at the Dayton Development Coalition or DDC, says the organization is matching storm-affected businesses with temporary staffing agencies, and other Miami Valley employers who could help provide workers.

“If there’s something where somebody has extra workers to give right now, make that available to other companies," he says, "and don’t be afraid to call the local city economic development department, or ourselves here at the DDC, or Business First. We can all get them in touch to the right people. But if you have something that you can give, don’t be afraid to give.”

Allen says the need for temporary workspace is urgent in storm-damaged parts of the region. 

Among the groups offering space to displaced companies is Barrystaff.

The Dayton company recently announced it's opening its doors to any small business owners or entrepreneurs in need of temporary offices. The company is also offering free parking, wireless internet and a break area, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

"Small business owners have each other's backs," Barrystaff president Doug Barry said in a statement. "What's ours is yours."

The company at 230 Webster Street in Downtown Dayton was without power for three days following the storms.

"That was hard enough," Barry said. "But others weren't so lucky. Some don't have a structure at all." 

Any business owners interested in taking up Barrystaff on its offer is encouraged to call 937-461-9732.

State officials are expected to expedite unemployment insurance benefits for anyone displaced from a job as a result of the recent tornadoes.

Displaced workers can find employment assistance and job training at their county Job and Family Services office -- where they can also access free copying, printing and internet services. 

For more information on where to find help after the Memorial Day tornadoes, visit WYSO's resource page.

Jess Mador comes to WYSO from Knoxville NPR-station WUOT, where she created an interactive multimedia health storytelling project called TruckBeat, one of 15 projects around the country participating in AIR's Localore: #Finding America initiative. Before TruckBeat, Jess was an independent public radio journalist based in Minneapolis. She’s also worked as a staff reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio in the Twin Cities, and produced audio, video and web stories for a variety of other news outlets, including NPR News, APM, and PBS television stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She loves making documentaries and telling stories at the intersection of journalism, digital and social media.