Local agencies provide plenty of free assistance to small businesses interested in pollution reduction and prevention, but the differences between agencies can be confusing.
Sunbury Cleaners & Laundry Ltd. President Dennis Bell received financial assistance from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority's Clean Air Resource Center, created when the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 were passed. The center acts as an ombudsman, dealing with financing and complaints against the Ohio or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Created at the same time was the Small Business Assistance Program at the Ohio EPA, which functions as a consultant to advise businesses about air pollution issues, says program supervisor Rick Carleski. The program can assess the business to determine what kind of air pollution permits are needed and help the business owner fill out necessary forms.
"We do this as an on-site service, so the business owner doesn't have to leave the company," Carleski says, noting that the program serves independently owned businesses with 100 or fewer employees.
Another unique facet of the Small Business Assistance Program and the Clean Air Resource Center is its records and services remain confidential to encourage small businesses to seek assistance.
Overseeing both the resource center and the Small Business Assistance Program is a board, independent of the EPA, that ensures the effectiveness of both organizations.
Assistance in pollution reduction is also available through the EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention, which works to help companies minimize waste emissions to air, water or land. That office has a loan program, too.
In addition, business owners can contact the EPA's Small Business Assistance Office, which offers a hotline for questions regarding environmental regulations and on-site visits to discuss air, waste, water and other EPA requirements. Again, the office does not share information with EPA enforcement or inspection staff.
The Small Business Assistance Office also helps with permit applications and forms and holds environmental workshops on topics such as preparing for an EPA inspection. The office's assistance is available to independently owned businesses with fewer than 100 employees in Franklin and nine surrounding counties.
For more information, contact:
- Ohio Air Quality Development Authority, Clean Air Resource Center: Mark Shanahan, 224-3383. Web site: www.state.oh.us/carc
- Office of Pollution Prevention, Bill Narotski, 728-1264. Web site: www.epa.state.oh.us/opp
- Small Business Assistance Office, Laurie Stevenson, 728-8576. Web site: www.epa.state.oh.us/other/sbao/sbaindex.html
- Small Business Assistance Program, Rick Carleski, 644-4830. It's Web site can be found at www.epa.state.oh.us/dapc/sba/sbaintro.html