Small businesses will share nearly $12 million in clean air financing

Two Greater Cincinnati small businesses have been approved by a state agency for up to $11.7 million in financing to help pay for projects to make their facilities more energy efficient.

The projects’ financing was approved by the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority, a non-regulatory agency that helps businesses comply with clean air regulations and conserve energy.

The project owners will make use of an innovative financing mechanism called property assessed clean energy (PACE), in coordination with their lenders, says the agency. PACE permits the businesses to finance energy efficiency improvements through voluntary assessments placed by owners on commercial or residential property.

JZB Realty Holding Co., LLC in Cincinnati received approval for up to $4.7 million in PACE financing for energy efficiency improvements and the addition of a solar array on the roof of Forest Hills Care Center, a senior assisted living facility.

The improvements are part of a $12.34 million investment being made by its parent company, Premier Health Care Management. The project is an addition of 80,000 square feet to the existing facility.

Clermont Health Realty in Amelia was approved for up to $7 million for energy efficiency financing at a new 109,000 square foot, 113-bed skilled nursing facility that will employ 55 to 60 people full time.

The PACE financing at the new facility will be used for an HVAC system, windows, lighting, wall insulation, and a high-efficiency hot water system.

The projects “are representative of the variety of financing opportunities OAQDA offers to Ohio small and large businesses seeking to become clean air facilities,” says Christina O’Keeffe, the agency’s executive director.

The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority’s primary mission is to prevent and reduce air pollution by helping to finance air quality facilities for small and large businesses, utilities, governments, and universities. It does that by issuing air quality revenue bonds, making loans and grants to build air quality facilities, building air quality facilities, and conducting research.

Its original mission was to help large Ohio industries control air pollution and comply with the Clean Air Act of 1970. In 1993, it took on responsibility for helping small businesses comply with clean air regulations, and in 2003 it took on Ohio’s clean coal program, the Ohio Coal Development Office. In 2008, the Authority was tapped to administer Ohio’s $150 million Advanced Energy Job Stimulus Program.

“Our mission leverages both economic and environmental opportunities to serve business and public entities across Ohio,” says O’Keeffe.

Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist, Cincinnati native and father of three. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.
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