By Bailey Toolson, Guest Blogger
DEQ invites guest bloggers to share their thoughts on issues that impact our environment. We appreciate their insights and the opportunity to broaden the conversation with others in the community.
The Division of Air Quality often writes and revises air quality rules to help reduce pollution and improve the air quality in our state. For many small businesses, the cost of complying with these rules is overwhelming and can put jobs and businesses at risk. The Air Assist Grant Program helps ease the financial burden of compliance on these small businesses and protect the wonderful jobs they provide.
The Small Business Clean Air Assist Program is a joint effort between the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, and the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR). The goal is to support businesses in making business process improvements to reduce emissions and improve air quality.
The Air Assist program offers grants and is focused on small businesses with fewer than 100 employees in nonattainment counties. In Utah, this includes Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Tooele, Salt Lake, Utah, and Weber counties. In these areas, the levels of six common, and potentially harmful, air pollutants exceed federal standards. We have also issued grants to businesses in Duchesne, Uintah, and Washington counties, even though they are not non-attainment counties. We hope these proactive projects will help these counties to keep their air clean and remain in attainment!
We match the funds dollar for dollar that a business invests in business process improvement projects up to $15,000. These projects can include the purchase and installation of upgraded supplies and equipment designed to reduce emissions and improve air quality.
Air Assist Grants must be used for equipment or other upgrades that are part of how a business operates. For example, converting from traditional paint to low-emission water based paint in an auto body shop or switching out gas mowers in favor of electric mowers for a landscape company qualifies for funding. The grants cannot be used for things such as energy efficient lighting heating, or cooling for an office.
The Air Assist Program has been in place since February 5, 2014. In that time, we have awarded grants totaling nearly $700,000 to help over 50 businesses around Utah. We have been able to help a variety of different businesses, including auto body shops, landscaping companies, coffee roasters, and even cabinet makers. Air Assist Grants are not competitive, we want to fund as many projects as possible!
The Air Assist Program has received funding through June 2017, and we are looking for more small businesses to help! The application is simple and there is no deadline to apply. The application can be found on the UCAIR website.
I recently graduated with a Masters of Public Health from Westminster College. I am the Air Assist Program Manager, as well as, a new addition to the UCAIR team. Prior to joining UCAIR, I worked for nearly 4 years with the Division of Air Quality. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking and camping, travel, and all things Italian.