Advice for ‘green’ entrepreneurs

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The “green” industry is hot. Concerns about harmful emissions and the country’s dependence on foreign oil have led to an explosion of energy-related entrepreneurial efforts. If you are interested in starting a “green” business, there are a wide range of grants and tax credits available. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy often advises entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a business related to energy efficiency or renewable energy.

Al Christopher, director of the department’s Division of Energy, recommends that business owners who know where they want to start their business contact the most local economic development organization first. “Some of these economic development entities have other related programs like incubators that can provide low-cost assistance and office space and legal advice,” Christopher says.  Businesses should also contact the Virginia Economic Development Partnership ( for guidance.  Energy is one of the partnership’s primary targets to attract businesses to Virginia.

Energy-related state tax credits, grants and financing
Green Job Creation Tax Credit. This tax credit for “green” companies awards an annual tax credit of $500 for each job with a salary of $50,000 or more for up to 350 green jobs. The credit is allowed in the first taxable year after the job has been filled for at least one year and in each of the four succeeding years.

Biofuels production grant: This grant applies to producers of biodiesel fuels, which are renewable, biodegradable fuels derived from agricultural plant oils or animal fats. Biofuels producers are eligible for a 10-cent-per-gallon grant if they produce at least 10 million gallons of biofuel in Virginia each year.

Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing Incentive Grant Program: This grant applies to manufacturers of solar photovoltaic panels in Virginia. It is an annual grant of up to 75 cents per watt of the capacity of the panels sold.

Center for Innovative Technology (CIT): CIT GAP Funds is a family of funds that is designed for early-stage technology and life sciences companies that have a potential for a fast-growth rate. The fund focuses on first-time entrepreneurs. CIT staff also work with entrepreneurs and bolster chances of venture financing.  More information:  

Virginia Tobacco Commission: The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission promotes economic development in Southern and Southwest Virginia. Energy has been a key focus of the commission and its research and development grant fund, which supports technology-related economic development. The fund is for research that is past the “proof-of-concept” phase and ready for commercialization within 36 months. It requires at least a 1:1 matching grant. For-profit companies are eligible if its co-applicant is a government or nonprofit- agency and it enters into a job and investment creation agreement with the commission. More information:

Virginia energy groups
There are many research groups and consortiums that are active in Virginia. Listed are some of the state’s research initiatives and groups focused on renewable resources and energy efficiency.

The federal government has certainly made “green” technologies a priority. Following are just a few of many resources entrepreneurs can access:

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Resources is charged with investing in technologies that protect the environment and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Its website features federal research and development and lists many funding opportunities.

Companies that are interested in applying for federal grants should search and apply for federal grants at The U..S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Technology administers two competitive grants programs for small businesses, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR). These programs are designed to help small, innovative companies be included in the federal government’s research and development efforts. (

Advanced Research Projects Agency: The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency was created with stimulus money to fund technologies that reduce dependence on foreign energy imports, reduce energy-related emissions and improve energy efficiency. Check out funding opportunities at


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Energy Matrix is a one-stop place for USDA’s programs that help farmers and rural communities respond to energy-related opportunities. The agency’s energy-related programs include education, technical assistance and financial support for infrastructure. More information:


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