Small Business Enterprise

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Small Business Enterprise

News from the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program

Apply today: grants for improving air quality in areas of concern for environmental justice

Areas of concern for environmental justice across MN

MPCA is offering approximately $130,000 for projects that will reduce air emissions within an identified area of concern for environmental justice.

Eligible applicants:

  • Businesses under 500 employees
  • Governmental agencies
  • Educational institutions
  • Tribes
  • Non-governmental organizations (e.g., nonprofits, trade groups, industry associations)

The maximum grant award is $25,000 per applicant.

Projects completed by the applicant at the applicant business have a match requirement of 25%, meaning the grant recipient would match at least 25% of the total project cost.

Applicants applying for funding to work with outside businesses do not have a match requirement.

Apply now! Deadline: April 30th, 2021

Review grant materials, application, and Q&A on the MPCA Grants for improving air quality in areas of concern for environmental justice page webpage.

Every day, employees and citizens around the state breathe the air pollution that results from facility processes. Exposure to these pollutants can affect everyone’s health, from employees to the members of the surrounding community. While the state has seen overall reductions in air pollution, some areas of Minnesota are disproportionately impacted. As outlined in the report, ‘The air we breathe: The state of Minnesota’s air quality in 2021,’ Black, Indigenous, people of color, and low-income residents are more likely to live near industrial facilities and other sources of harmful air pollution. Ninety-three percent of communities of color and Indigenous communities and sixty-six percent of low-income communities are above risk guidelines.

Many small businesses, governmental agencies, educational institutions, and non-governmental organizations who work within these areas have opportunities to use different equipment, update their processes, or switch to cleaner products to save money and protect the health of their employees and neighbors but need a cost-share incentive to make these changes. To help take the leap and improve their environmental stewardship, the MPCA is offering this grant funding.

For more information on the Air we breathe report, visit:

Get the lead out

Image of loon; get the lead out

Did you know that the vast majority of fishing tackle currently available on the market is made out of lead? Lead is a toxic metal that is lethal in small amounts to common loons and other wildlife, including trumpeter swans and bald eagles. The common loon is Minnesota’s iconic state bird and are also an integral part of ecosystems. Across the United States, lead poisoning is a leading cause of death for loons.

An estimated 25% of loons die from lead poisoning, primarily from swallowing lead jigs and sinkers. Get the Lead Out (GTLO) is an MPCA outreach and education program under a cooperative agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that addresses this issue. GTLO’s goal is to educate Minnesota anglers about the dangers of lead-based tackle to loons and other wildlife.

You can help by making the switch to lead-free tackle! Check out the GTLO lead-free manufacturer page for an extensive list of lead-free tackle manufacturers. The GTLO team also encourages anglers and other concerned citizens to ask their local bait and tackle shops to carry more lead-free options.

Looking for more ways to get involved? Contact Get the Lead Out at Also be sure to check out their Facebook and Instagram pages where they feature lead-free tackle manufacturers, program updates, and information about loons!

Resources available to help reduce fuel use

Graphs of reduced emissions

U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program is a nationwide system of close to 100 local coalitions that create a network of stakeholders to advance clean transportation projects. These coalitions support national energy and economic security by building partnerships that advance affordable transportation fuels, energy efficient mobility systems, and other fuel-saving strategies. Clean Cities coalitions collaborate with federal and state agencies, fuel providers, industry associations, equipment manufacturers, and large and small companies whose vehicle fleets may operate in multiple states or just a local neighborhood. These stakeholders share information and resources, inform policy, educate the public, and collaborate on transportation projects to advance fuel infrastructure.

The Minnesota branch of Clean Cities is the Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition (TC4) and is staffed by the American Lung Association. They work with many stakeholders to facilitate greater use of alternative fuels for fleets and the general public and their mission is to improve air quality, support economic development, and curb dependance on overseas oil imports by increasing use of cleaner fuels.

TC4 provides many services and tools to assist fleets in evaluating the best options for reducing fuel use in light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles. They can also help you learn about developing a more sustainable fleet with homegrown, renewable fuels such as E85 and biodiesel, options with electric vehicles, and other alternative fuels. The Coalition also provides information on which fuels and vehicles produce fewer emissions and where to find cleaner-burning alternative fuels or advanced technologies. Click the link to see coalition snapshot of emissions reduced and petroleum eliminated:

In addition to providing educational resources, the Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition also provides information on workshops, conducts promotional events, and assists with grant development to execute fueling infrastructure and vehicle deployment. Learn more about alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies that produce fewer emissions and the growing infrastructure in the state at the Clean Air Choice website. The Coalition is available at no cost to help small businesses green their fleets! Contact Gillian at or 612-257-9607 to inquire about evaluating your fleet.

Free smart thermostats for your business

Smart thermostat image

Upgrading to smart thermostats will help you better manage your energy use and earn annual bill credits from Xcel Energy. Center for Energy and Environment’s (CEE) One-Stop Efficiency Shop, sponsored by Xcel Energy, will install smart thermostats at your business for free – seriously!

Visit to learn more and schedule your installation. Wi-Fi connection and AC controlled by a thermostat at the location are required.

CEE’s One-Stop team can also help you identify energy-saving lighting and HVAC improvements, and earn rebates covering up to 60% of the total project cost. Get started by signing up for a free, no obligation energy assessment at

Center for Energy and Environment, a local nonprofit with expertise in energy efficiency, implements the One-Stop Efficiency Shop® program on behalf of Xcel Energy.