A small business with an aging building can benefit immensely from energy efficiency upgrades, benefits such as reduced utility bills, improved building aesthetics and increased building life. However, these upgrades can be financially cumbersome to small businesses that often operate on smaller margins. The Business Energy Retrofit (BER) grant program can help alleviate energy upgrade costs to small businesses. It is funded by Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation and administered through a partnership with Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA). Two Grand Rapids businesses recently took advantage of this program.
Itasca County Habitat for Humanity ReStore
The Itasca County Habitat for Humanity ReStore (pictured above) received a BER grant to pay a portion of the costs for electricity connection to its warehouse, blown-in insulation and energy efficient lighting fixtures. These upgrades were part of a larger renovation needed to expand its growing operation.
ReStore opened in 2007 and by 2010 it slowly began to make a profit. ReStore relies on residents’ donations such as furniture, windows, building materials, dishes and appliances. It then sells the items to the public at value prices. Proceeds benefit Itasca Habitat, which has built 41 and restored 14 homes for qualifying local families since its founding in 1993.
“The donation volume was increasing, and the customer base was growing,” said Amanda Lamppa, Itasca Habitat’s executive director. “The store became so popular, especially among antiquers, refurbishers, and bargain shoppers that we needed to expand our retail space, warehouse and receiving area.”
The ReStore wanted energy efficiency improvements to be a part of the renovation, so it applied for a BER grant to help offset costs. Lamppa said she is looking forward to the energy cost savings resulting from the grant.
P&D Sewing Center
One mile away from ReStore is P&D Sewing Center, another small business that received a BER grant. Tanya and Scott Jackson have owned the Grand Rapids sewing business since 2001, repairing and selling sewing machines, notions and gadgets.
P&D’s grant helped pay for a new roof, insulation, windows, air conditioning system, an on-demand hot water heater, interior LED lighting and plumbing fixtures. These new energy efficient elements were part of the larger remodel paid for by the business owner.
“The BER grant paid for about 20 percent of the total renovation. We could not have completed the project without the grant,” said Tanya. “We just received our first heating bill and it was 50 percent less than comparable bill cycles.”
More about the Business Energy Retrofit Program
The Business Energy Retrofit (BER) grant program can help alleviate energy upgrade costs for businesses located within the Taconite Assistance Area. The next grant cycle will be open July 1-14, 2018 with $750,000 available in total funding. A small business with an aging building can benefit immensely from energy efficiency upgrades, benefits such as reduced utility bills, improved building aesthetics and increased building life. However, these upgrades can be financially cumbersome to small businesses that often operate on smaller margins.
BER will fund projects based on the following criteria and priorities:
- A business located within a community that has been previously underserved by BER
- A business that has not received a prior BER grant
- A business located within a downtown corridor
- Projects that are ready to begin within 30 days of application submittal
- Projects that include construction/work bids with the submitted grant application
Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation funds the BER program, and it is administered through a partnership with Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA). To learn more visit their website or contact Vince Meyer with AEOA at [email protected] or 218-735-6828.