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~State provides small business assistance through outreach and compliance assistance~

TALLAHASSEE – In recognition of National Small Business Week, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection highlights the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program and district small business outreach efforts made through all areas of the Department.

The purpose of the program is to provide regulatory and technical assistance to Florida’s small business community, primarily in the Division of Air Resource Management. The Department’s partnerships with trade associations, private industries, state and federal agencies and other entities, help to ensure Florida's small businesses will be environmentally conscious and protective of Florida's natural resources.

The program provides several services to small business, including:

  • Free and confidential phone consultations;
  • Notification of applicable requirements and facts;
  • Referrals to other environmental programs (air, water, waste);
  • Presentations and workshops to public or private organizations;
  • Maintains industry-specific fact sheets available for download at the program's library;
  • Maintains a hotline directory of key personnel who manage various state environmental programs and services.

"Many of the industries regulated by the Department are small, owner-operated facilities, such as dry cleaners and auto repair shops," said DEP Deputy Secretary of Regulatory Programs Jeff Littlejohn. "Through compliance assistance worshops, outreach and our small business assistance programs, we strive to ensure that small businesses can thrive, while protecting and improving Florida's environment."

In addition to the program, the Department’s districts and divisions conduct outreach to Florida small business owners to assist them in achieving compliance and educating them on environmental stewardship.

For instance, in April, the South District partnered with Florida Gulf Coast University’s Small Business Development Center to host an economic growth and business workshop that focused on local, state and federal environmental rules, statutes and directives that support or hinder smart growth from both the government and business perspectives. The workshop was designed to increase awareness about governmental agencies to foster a friendlier business environment. 

The Division of Air Resource Management saved small business owners more than $300,000 and reduced air emissions through its Title V air “fee holiday.” The successful, one-time holiday was for businesses that fell below a $5,000 annual air emissions fee threshold. Nearly 300 businesses kept their 2012 air emissions low enough to qualify for the fee holiday, with 78 reducing emissions a total of approximately 1,885 tons.

SInce January, the Northeast District has visited more than 30 dry cleaner facilities to provide individualized compliance assistance through industry-specific outreach. While visiting the dry cleaning facilities, the majority of which are small businesses, District staff explained the air and hazardous waste rules and requirements pertaining to these facilities as well as taught operators about record keeping and the newly implemented electronic air permit renewals. The facilities were also given a poster that provides guidance and reminders on numerous required environmental efforts including leak checks, the proper handling of filters, lints and wastes, all to reduce the emissions. 

To learn more about the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program, visit the SBEAP Program Description page. Small business owners are encouraged to contact the program and to take advantage of available resources by calling 1.800.722.7457