Chamber program focuses on financing, energy savings

First Posted: 3/26/2015

LIMA — As energy costs increase, there’s an option for businesses to cut costs and spread their financing out.

Teresa Smith, business development manager with the Toledo/Lucas County Port Authority, spoke at Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s Wake, Rattle and Roll event Friday about the authority’s business financing program.

“We know businesses can benefit from it,” Smith said.

The program started expanding from the Toledo area about a year ago, and now the organization can serve all of Ohio.

A potential project and discussions with local economic development officials played into Smith coming to Lima to speak.

She spoke to the attendees about saving money, saving energy and new financing options for businesses.

The Port Authority can offer financing to businesses to make building improvements that lower energy costs and conserve energy.

Though many businesses so far have used it as emergency funding to fix a boiler or something else that has broken down, they then may explore more energy projects and retrofits.

“They don’t come to us and say they want to go green,” Smith said. “Businesses talk to us because their building is failing.”

PNC Bank Building, at 405 Madison in Toledo, had a failing boiler and came to the Port Authority for help. Once that was fixed and financed, they explored the entire building and how they could improve its overall efficiency, Smith said.

The Port Authority has done several buildings in Toledo and can serve all types and sizes of businesses as well as municipalities, residential and education buildings.

To be eligible, the project must be on an existing building and if it’s a commercial project, renewable energy needs to be part of a larger energy efficiency attempt. The financing works differently than a bank loan or mortgage. Instead, the Port Authority gets repaid through property taxes, as it becomes an assessment on the property, Smith said.

It’s on a business’ regular, bi-annual property tax bill, and businesses can spread the financing out over 15 years, she said.

“[They] get to benefit from all the energy savings each month and then that money can go to pay for the building,” Smith said. “It’s really an innovative tool.”

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