If you have been asking yourself this question, you are not alone.
I’ve been fielding calls for two weeks from clients, friends, you name it. In my quest to come up with answers I cam upon the blog of Chad Moutray, the Chief Economist and Director of Economic Research for the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration. He posted about small business and the stimulus and provided a run-down of what’s in the stimulus package for small businesses:
* $720 million to help support a number of programs at the U.S. Small Business Administration (primarily reducing fees on 7(a) guaranteed loan guarantees);
* $400 million in other support to support economic development and entrepreneurship, particularly in distressed rural, urban, and low-income communities; and
* tax incentives for small businesses, including a continuation of section 179 expensing up to $250,000 on new capital investments, loss carry back for up to five years, a delay in the three percent withholding tax for businesses doing government procurement, and a reduced capital gains tax for small business investors holding stock for five years or more.
Moutray also pointed out that there will be “major investments in infrastructure, broadband, green technologies, home winterization incentives, etc., which will hopefully benefit large and small businesses alike.”
Being interested in small, green businesses, I checked out the two primary agencies that might have have some thing to say: The Environmental Protection Agency and The Department of Energy. It turns out, that according to Enesta Jones in the Press Office at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one reason its difficult to sort all this out is because agencies that are slated to receive money haven’t decided exactly how they will dispense it. In other words, the programs that will dispense money have yet to be created. It appears that some chunk of the money will ultimately be dispersed as grants, some through loans and some through procurement (government spending). Additionally, some money will go to states to disperse through their sibling agencies and some with go through through the federal recovery efforts. It looks like we’ll all have to wait and see on the specifics of how exactly a business can obtain funds. But, every government agency that received funds to disperse has been required to issue a press release discussing how their stimulus funds will be spent. So, we have been told a few things:
The DOE press release states that there are 10 areas of funding through DoE:
- Funds to make homes and businesses more energy efficient through weatherization, home energy audits and the construction of combined heat and power generation.The DoE will also “partner” (they are not very specific about what this means) with states, industry and manufacturers to put scientists, engineers and computer programmers to work developing better ways to build ever more efficient buildings and appliances. (also see Scott Cooney’s excellent post
How Can Your Small Business Take Advantage of the Tax Incentives in the Stimulus Package for Efficiency Upgrades?) Opportunities lie in weatherization, energy audits and energy efficiency products and services. Funding energy efficiency improvements for federal government offices and buildings.
- The “acceleration of construction” of renewable energy projects through a combination of loans, loan guarantees and grants. Opportunities lie in green construction and renovation, renewable energy projects.
- Building transmission lines and grid technology infrastructure needed for a better, smarter grid to transport electricity. This seems to include deploying “Smart Meters” in homes and buildings. The Doe will invest in design and demonstration projects to improve on existing grid technologies. They will also invest in job training for the next generation of transmission workers. Opportunities lie is grid infrastructure, smart meters, job training services.
- Develop innovative technologies for clean coal, petroleum coke and other “plants of the future.” Opportunities for business that can help dirty systems be more clean.
- Grants for cellulosic biofuels technologies. Opportunities for biofuels R&D.
- Building and renovating laboratories and research facilities. Opportunities for construction and R&D.
- Loans and grants to support the development of advanced vehicle batteries and battery systems. Opportunities in battery technology R&D and manufacturing.
- Jump start advanced energy technologies by funding high-risk, high-payoff research in collaboration with industry. Opportunities for R&D.
- Cleanup of nuclear radioactive waste from Cold War nuclear project sites. Opportunities in clean-up products and services.
In addition, The DoE has promised to implement a number of reforms that will make it easier to obtain loans and loan guarantees, leading to “new investments in energy projects within months.”
These changes will ostensibly impact the “DoE’s dispersal of direct loans, loan guarantees and funding contained in the new recovery legislation.” Again, that word “funding” seems to be the area where the rules of dispersion have yet to be set. So if you are interested in a DoE loan or loan guarantee, it appears that will now be easier and faster.
The EPA has its own stimulus funds to dispense. According the the EPA, the stimulus includes $7.22 billion for projects and programs under the EPA aegis. Through these programs there appears to be stimulus money for R&D, products and especially services that assist in the following areas:
- Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: Water quality and wastewater infrastructure needs and drinking water infrastructure needs.
- Brownfields: Grants for evaluation and clean up services.
- Diesel Emissions Reduction: Grants and loans for projects that reduce diesel emissions.
- Superfund Hazardous Waste Cleanup
- Leaking Underground Storage Tanks: for cleanup of petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks.
In the end, the only thing that appears to be clear is that there will be money available for ecopreneurs in specific industries and for specific, sometimes narrow, purposes. And that the some money will come from state agencies and some from federal agencies. I suppose the best advice is to contact your state EPA and DoE agencies to get yourself in the pipeline and sign up for alerts from Recovery.com. Have I left anything out?