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Pilot Project Designed to Help Small Businesses Prepare for Disasters

May 20, 2008

    GUELPH, ON, May 20 /CNW/ - Small businesses in downtown Guelph, Ontario
have new resources to help them prepare for disaster-related business
interruptions thanks to a pilot project launched today. The Open for
business(SM) program is made available through a partnership between the
Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), The Co-operators and the
Downtown Guelph Business Association.
    The comprehensive program consists of three main components designed to
help businesses prepare for business interruptions of all kinds: a disaster
planning folder, a guide and a planning toolkit.

    -   The Open for business(SM) Disaster Plan Folder contains planning
        advice and is designed to hold important papers such as leases,
        insurance policies and contact lists.
    -   The Open for business(SM) Getting Back to Business Guide provides
        step-by-step instructions to help business owners assess damage, file
        insurance claims, and ultimately return to business.
    -   The Open for business(SM) Toolkit contains helpful information,
        checklists and forms to help business owners both reduce the
        potential for loss, and reopen quickly.

    During the pilot project, which is being funded by The Co-operators, a
university student is working out of the Downtown Guelph Business Association
office. The student is distributing the kits and will raise awareness of the
program and assist local companies with business continuity planning
throughout the summer.
    "Research tells us that at least one in four small businesses forced to
close for a period after a loss never reopens, and those that do struggle to
remain in business," said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The
Co-operators and chairperson of the ICLR. "Smaller businesses tend to lack the
resources to develop robust business continuity plans, which are standard
among larger businesses. This program is designed to help them do just that,
so that they can better protect their investments and livelihood."
    As climate change and increasingly erratic weather raise concerns in
Canada and throughout the world, disaster preparedness is more important than
ever. For further information, visit

    About the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction:
    Established in 1998 by Canada's property and casualty insurers, ICLR is
an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at the
University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. ICLR is a centre of
excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR's
research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number
of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water
resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a
foundation for ICLR's work to build communities more resilient to disasters.
Ongoing ICLR funding is provided by the insurance community, The University of
Western Ontario and a number of other partners.

    About The Co-operators:
    Based in Guelph, Ontario, The Co-operators is a group of Canadian
companies offering home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm
insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators Group Limited is a
100 per cent Canadian-owned co-operative with assets of $7 billion. It is
owned by a group of Canadian co-operatives, credit unions and like-minded
organizations. It is well known for its community involvement, and is listed
among the 50 Best Employers in Canada.

For further information: Leonard Sharman, The Co-operators,
1-877-795-7272, ext. 2707; Glenn McGillivray, Institute for Catastrophic Loss
Reduction, (416) 277-5827

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