Businesses Form MaineLine Coalition to Aid Rebuilding Efforts in Haiti
The recent earthquake in Haiti is the worst disaster in modern history, according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). In just 35 seconds, the 7.0 magnitude earthquake claimed more than 200,000 lives and caused nearly $14 billion in damages or almost 117 percent of the country’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP). With more than three million people affected and the country’s infrastructure in ruins, it is estimated that reconstruction efforts will take decades.
Already one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, countries hit by disasters of this enormity often suffer economic consequences that are near impossible to reverse without sustained and direct international intervention. Further complicating recovery efforts in Haiti, is the fact that the capital city, Port-au-Prince – the center of commerce, government and communication – has been completely destroyed in the quake’s aftermath.
In response to this horrific and unprecedented tragedy, individuals, businesses, relief agencies and government organizations across the globe have banded together to help Haiti’s earthquake victims. Here in Maine, we have witnessed proactive and immediate assistance in various forms.
The crisis in Haiti has highlighted the need for an organized, strategic effort to help connect Maine businesses to catastrophe sites in order to make a direct, specific difference during the rebuilding phase of relief efforts. To address this need, Preti Flaherty, Unum, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England, Kennebunk Savings Bank, Reed & Reed, CD&M Communications and Mainebiz have organized MaineLine: Haiti, a coalition of concerned businesses for catastrophe relief and rebuilding assistance. By joining together in a coordinated effort and pooling the state’s business resources, Maine companies can now make a dramatic and personal impact in relief efforts in Haiti.
Over the next several months, MaineLine: Haiti will be assessing the needs of multiple aid sectors on the ground in Haiti through direct, in-country involvement and official oversight of an international aid expert. These sectors are likely to include water and sanitation, food and nutrition, shelter and non-food items, among others.
Maine’s Senior Senator Olympia J. Snowe, said, “Despite tough economic times, Mainers have taken swift action, donating much-needed resources and supplies to assist with rescue and relief efforts in Haiti. MaineLine is a great example of the spirit, care, and resourcefulness that has long epitomized Maine’s business community. Rebuilding Haiti and providing assistance to the millions of people whose lives have been devastated will take a long-term, committed effort and I believe business-sponsored relief efforts will play a critical part in the international community’s response to this crisis.”
Once the needs analysis is developed and the most appropriate relief organizations are identified and matched to the coalition members’ directive, arrangements will be made for each company to send the contributions directly to the major aid organization that will distribute the funds with direct oversight and documentation from the coalition representative. The overall distribution and application of monetary, gifts-in-kind (GIK), and expert service contributions from the coalition will be documented by the coalition representative on the ground in Haiti through photography, videos and reporting.
“MaineLine: Haiti is an important vehicle through which Maine businesses can play a significant role in the rebuilding of Haiti,” said Dana F. Connors, president, Maine Chamber of Commerce. “By joining together and pooling their extensive natural resources and brightest minds, Maine businesses are uniquely positioned to help drive relief efforts where they are needed most.”
Leading MaineLine: Haiti’s on-site relief effort is Darcy Pierce. Pierce is a senior partner with Envoy, a Maine-based firm focused on connecting the business world with the developing world. Commenting on the work that lays ahead, Pierce said, “The entire infrastructure of Haiti has collapsed and the rebuilding process will last through 2010 and beyond. Support will be needed to provide everything from housing construction to business restructuring as no sector escaped the devastation.”
Businesses throughout Maine are Asked to Join MaineLine: Haiti
MaineLine: Haiti is actively working to expand coalition membership and increase business participation throughout the state. Membership is open to any Maine company – regardless of size and industry – looking to have a direct impact in Haiti by donating funds, goods or materials. In-country expertise will also be needed, and will be determined on a case-by-case basis. At the present time, MaineLine: Haiti is asking only two things from its member companies: (1) use of their business logo on the coalition’s website to show support for its efforts; and (2) a promise that when an appropriate infrastructure project is identified in Haiti, member companies will consider some form of contribution, be it a gift of materials, services or cash.
Current membership includes the organizing leadership committee as well as Woodard & Curran, Hussey Seating, The Baker Company, Nonesuch Golf Course, Baker Newman & Noyes, Headlight Audio Visual, and Others! Organic Fair Trade Coffee. The Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Portland Regional Chamber have also given their support. For more information or to join the coalition please visit www.maineline.org.