Survey: Small Businesses Support Energy Technologies and Initiatives

Despite recent political attacks aimed at the White House over Solyndra — a solar cell manufacturer that went bankrupt after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee — recently-surveyed small business owners overwhelmingly support government investments in clean energy because they believe the loans play an important part in boosting the economy and creating jobs.The Internet survey was commissioned by the advocacy group Small Business Majority and was conducted among 600 small businesses in six states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, Nevada and Colorado. Respondents were politically diverse, with 44 percent identified as Republican, 38 percent as Democrat and 10 percent as independent.A clear majority of them — 71 percent — agree government has a role in driving the U.S. toward a cleaner, more competitive economy. There was even stronger support (76 percent) for new and current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air quality standards that require a reduction in greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions, despite the fact that more than half say their business will be impacted to some degree by EPA oversight of emissions. In fact, and 56 percent of respondents support the new standards even if they result in utility price hikes.

Other survey findings included in the executive summary are:

  • Contrary to ideological rhetoric blaming government regulations as the primary impediment to small business growth, small business owners cite the rising cost of doing business — such as higher fuel and electricity costs (36 percent) and higher material and supply costs (34 percent) — as one of their two biggest challenges. Only 16 percent say government regulation is one of their two biggest problems.
  • On the subject of EPA standards for air quality, 73 percent favor proposed rules to reduce smog and soot pollution crossing state lines and contributing to pollution in other states (known as the “Good Neighbor Rule”). Again, more than half of the small business owners indicate that their business would be directly affected by these rules.
  • 58 percent of respondents believe the government should continue investing in renewable energy technologies like solar and wind.

“Small businesses are eager for pragmatic, innovative energy policies that can help them develop new technologies and increase business opportunities,” says Small Business Majority founder and CEO John Arensmeyer. “They understand that to survive in this tough economy they need creative solutions to curb costs and increase their competitive edge. Right now, giving small businesses the incentives and tools needed to drive job creation and increase market competitiveness should be a top priority.”

The report concludes that small business owners are working overtime to help rebound the economy, but they are battling the rising costs of doing business.

“Increased fuel and electricity prices are hampering small business owners’ bottom lines, but the ability to compete in a transforming clean energy-based economy offers them new business opportunities that can help offset those costs,” it notes. “With entrepreneurs supporting these standards in times when they know they might face cost increases like higher utility prices, it’s clear they believe the long-term economic benefits overall would outweigh their short-term costs.”


Guest blogger bio: This post was submitted by Sarah Levy of Merchant Express. Sarah is a small business writer covering topics from entrepreneurship to payment processing. Find more great small business resources by Sarah on the Merchant Express Blog.

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