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How Sustainable Communities Can Create Opportunities for Small Businesses

By Joyce Mihalik on January 14, 2020

In order to understand the benefits of doing business in a sustainable community, it's essential to understand how the cycle of sustainability works. Some communities try to promote sustainable living directly to their residents only. However, successful communities know that providing opportunities for small businesses to be sustainable as well as the key to being an impactful and enduring community.

A community government that gives business leaders access to sustainability education, resources and incentives yield more successful businesses. This, in turn, provides a more stable environment for residents to live sustainably.

Doing business in a community that values its effects on the environment is advantageous for the community and business alike because, ultimately, this provides a better lifestyle for its residents.

Advantages for Small Businesses in a Sustainable Community

Navigating local, state and federal regulations is hard. Particularly for business owners concentrating their efforts on maintaining and growing business. It’s important for a business owner to know they have somewhere to turn when they need help in becoming more environment-minded.


It’s essential for a business to have an advocate. One that not only understands what they need in order to be successful in their sustainability efforts and engages them in shaping the community's plans to support them in integrating their own goals.

A great example of advocacy for business owners who want to be environmentally-conscious in the City of Cleveland’s dedicated page for local businesses to understand policies and programs available to them that encourage green sustainability for businesses.

Attracting New and Emerging Markets

Doing business in a sustainable community has a distinct energy that you can’t get elsewhere. Innovation and problem management is unique in a community that considers its effect on the
environment. That’s why sustainable communities attract emerging markets with innovative businesses that vow to have positive impacts on their neighborhoods and a thriving and engaged workforce.

The energy in a sustainable community is palpable. This can be felt by everyone, from its business owners to its residents, and even by others outside of the community. It draws other businesses by creating positive movement and even more momentum and opportunity for established businesses.

Providing Connections

No business can operate as an island. In order to thrive, it needs like-minded business owners and community leaders to create a cohesive network of thought and action.

Because of special governmental energy programs and funding, sustainable communities have access to resources that others don’t. They can provide businesses with invaluable connections to
contacts, leadership, and education to help them grow.

There are environmental tax incentives and rebate programs available for both residents and businesses in Ohio that can be easily applied for. However, only communities with a commitment to
the environment is able to offer additional tax incentives and funding exclusively to businesses that have a similar commitment to sustainability.

Sustainable Communities Provide Help to Small Businesses

When a community government pledges its responsibility to the environment, it also declares a duty to its local business owners. This duty is to directly engage them to also become more eco-sustainable. The end-goal is to foster a community that’s progressive, aware and motivated to improve itself. Improvement can only be gauged by understanding today's baseline, and so many cities now require commercial buildings to benchmark their energy use annually using ENERGYSTAR's© Portfolio Manager


Sustainable communities can provide local businesses with introductions to organizations that help them develop environmentally and economically sustainable businesses. They stress the
responsibility of community and business involvement in growing the local economy.

Coalitions like the Ohio Sustainable Business Council help local businesses by being committed to creating and maintaining public policies at every level to support a strong, healthy and clean


One of the biggest advantages for a small business committed to environmental responsibility and located in a sustainable community is access to special credits, loans, and incentives, as well as a reduction in utility expenses. When businesses can predict their operational budget and bank savings, they can plan for capital improvements that help lower utility bills in the future.

One of those special credits allowed Sirna and Sons Produce in Ravenna (a NOPEC community) to cover the entire roof of a new building addition and 25% of an older building section in solar panels.
Those 1,331 solar panels now generate 35% of the building’s power. Without the tax credits they received, the company would be looking at a 10-12 year breakeven period for the installation rather
than the six-year payback they now have because of the incentive.

NOPEC also offers business owners programs to help offset the cost of improving their property’s energy efficiency. Our PACE and STEP programs let property owners be assessed on their property
taxes for the cost of installing efficiency-improving upgrades like solar panels.

Learn how to make your local business more sustainable with NOPEC. Follow us on LinkedIn to learn more about business sustainability and see how NOPEC can benefit your community.

Joyce Mihalik is an industry leader, with over 30 years’ experience serving the energy community in Northeast Ohio. She holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University and an MBA from the University of Akron. Throughout her career, she has set the strategic direction for energy performance, energy conservation, procurement, and resale. As Chief Operating Officer at NOPEC, she evangelizes on the mission to aggregate, educate, and advocate for community members and businesses.


Tags: NOPEC, Small Business, Sustainability, Sustainable Communities, Energy Efficiency
Categories: Sustainability

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