The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes many provisions regarding renewable energy and the “greening of America” including a few provisions that directly improve the SBA 504 program. As a result, there are significant benefits for those companies interested in helping themselves while helping the environment.
Changes to the 504 Program – Some Obvious, Some Not So Obvious
1. Larger (much larger) loans are now available. The loans can be so large in fact that one wonders if they should even be considered “small business loans.”
For instance, if you decide to make your business more energy efficient – or if you decide to get into renewable energy production – you can now borrow up to $10 million (and sometimes more) for the purchase, renovation, remodel or refinance of a commercial property used for your business.
($10 million is a lot of money for a “small” business).
2. You can save money on utility bills. And depending on “how green you go” this could be a lot or a little.
The new guidelines state that a business only needs to go a “little green” to qualify for a larger loan. In fact, you only need to cut your energy consumption by 10% to be eligible. Now 10% doesn’t sound like much, but every little bit helps.
Not so obvious benefits:
1. BIG tax savings. How much you can save varies from state to state and it also depends on how energy efficient your make your business. Each state has it’s own limits regarding what you can recoup in tax incentives and the federal government allows significant deductions as well. In some states you can recoup as much as 85% of the cost of installing renewable energy equipment. You can get a state by state breakdown of renewable energy and energy efficiency incentives here: www.dsireusa.org
2. YOU ARE ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT – I put this under “not so obvious” because in the current economic climate most people are thinking about how they can cut costs and helping the environment isn’t at the top of their to do lists. This mindset will likely change as our country recovers from the recession and people are able to focus on things other than survival.
3. Good PR. Have you ever met anyone who didn’t like the idea of doing something good for the planet? I don’t think I have.
Now, I do realize there are people who work for companies with bad reputations when it comes to looking out for Mother Earth, but I think if you polled most people individually you’d find that they do care. This should only be more true in the future, because there is definitely a renewed focus on doing what is right for the environment as there are now much greater ecological and economic consequences for abusing our planet.
Anyway, if you start to make use of renewable energy than it would serve you well to let your customers and your community know about it. You might be suprised at the goodwill (and business) that comes from it.