Operational Improvement and Capital Access Resources
Operational Improvement Resources
- Business USA—Resources to help small businesses and exporters quickly connect to the services and information needed to efficiently and effectively navigate the Federal bureaucracy.
- ENERGY STAR Industrial Partnership—Nearly 800 industrial corporations participate and receive valuable assistance in building energy management across their companies. The U.S. EPA, through the ENERGY STAR industrial partnership, helps companies in developing and strengthening their corporate energy management programs. ENERGY STAR is voluntary government program that has been providing assistance to companies for over a decade. The unique set of tools and resources can be adopted by manufacturers of all sizes to improve the energy efficiency of operations, save money, and protect the environment.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Partnership—The CHP Partnership provides tools and resources to promote the highly efficient and low-emitting CHP technology that can contribute to organizations’ energy reliability, operational resiliency, and sustainability goals. In particular, the Database of CHP Policies and Incentives (dCHPP) allows users to search for funding opportunities and programs favorable to CHP deployment at the state and federal levels.
- EPA Local Government Climate and Energy Strategy Series—The Guides in this Series provide an overview of measures that local governments can use to achieve economic, environmental, social, and human health benefits. The Series covers a range of topics, including combined heat and power (CHP), smart growth, solid waste and materials management and transportation control measures.
- U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative—DOE's Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative is a strategic integration and commitment of manufacturing efforts across the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's clean energy technology offices and Advanced Manufacturing Office, focusing on American competitiveness in clean energy manufacturing.
Check out the IMCP Financing Guide (PDF) for step-by-step guidance on how to get started with seeking supplemental funding or financing for your community initiative. The Financing Guide also includes profiles of three emergent and underutilized financing mechanisms such as: industrial development bonds, program-related investments, and pay-for-success financing.
Potential Financial Partner Resources
- Community Development Financial Institutions—CDFIs are financial institutions with a social and/or environmental mission that typically serve communities finding it hard to access financing from mainstream financial institutions. They obtain their funding from a range of sources that include foundations, government, corporate banks, social investors and individuals. In addition to lending, these organizations provide an array of financial services and technical assistance to their customers to help increase their capacity to effectively use capital. This technical assistance ranges from business plan development to market research to operational technical assistance in areas like energy efficiency. Resources to help you find CDFIs in your area include the Opportunity Finance Network's CDFI Database and the CDFI Coalition.
- Community Foundation Atlas—Provides information about over 1,800 place-based community foundations searchable through a map-based directory.
- Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA)—CDFA is comprised of the nation’s leading and most knowledgeable members of the development finance community representing 400 public, private, and non-profit development entities that can be found in every state and municipality. These entities can issue bonds, offer credit enhancement, and provide debt and equity investments. CDFA's website provides information on development finance education, advocacy, research, networking, and over 5,000 resources.
- Council on Foundations—The Council on Foundations is a national nonprofit association of more than 1,700 grant-making foundations and corporations.
- Foundation Center Foundation Directory Online—Provides information about nearly 90,000 grantmakers.
- Fourth Sector Network—Explains the concept of "fourth sector" or "for benefit" organizations that blend traditional private and social sectors. Also provides resources for establishing local fourth-sector networks.
- Minority Business Development Agency and its Business Centers—Assists minority-owned businesses with business referrals and technical and management assistance.
- Mission Investors Exchange—Provides guidance and resources on impact investing (including program-related investments and market-rate investments) as well as lists foundations that are either active or interested in impact investing. The Community Foundation Field Guide to Impact Investing offers reflections from the field and resources for moving forward. The Impact Investing in the Energy Sector report focuses specifically on how federal actions can support greater impact investing in clean energy.
- Small Business Development Centers—Provide an array of technical assistance to small businesses to help them be more successful, including development of business plans, manufacturing assistance, and financial packaging and lending assistance.
- U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Investment and Innovation—Provides access to financial capital and intellectual property for the high-growth small business community.
- Utilities—Many utilities have efficiency programs and may offer incentives, rebates, or financing for energy efficiency or water conservation efforts.
Capital Access Resources
- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program—The CDBG Program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is a flexible funding program for communities to address a wide range of community-development needs, with a particular focus on helping low- and moderate-income people.
- Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) Federal Financing Clearinghouse—Online directory of federal financing programs with profiles of over 170 federal development financing programs.
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)—Contains information on state incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States. DSIRE is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and operated by North Carolina State University, with support from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc.
- EPA's Brownfields-Area Wide Planning Federal Resource Tool (XLSM) (2.2MB)—A list of Federal resources from EPA's Brownfields program.
- Export-Import Bank of the United States—Helps U.S. companies of all sizes by providing financing for exports and filling gaps in trade financing. The Bank assumes credit and country risks that private-sector banks may be unable or unwilling to accept.
- Federal Finance Facilities Available for Energy Efficiency Upgrades and Clean Energy Deployment—F3 is a resource guide listing the various Federal financing programs for which energy efficiency and clean energy qualify. F3 is meant to make it easier for state, local, and tribal leaders, along with their partners in the private sector, to find capital for energy efficiency and clean energy projects.
- Grants.gov—Federal website that provides a centralized location for grant seekers to find and apply for federal funding opportunities. It includes information on over 1,000 grant programs from 26 federal grant-making agencies.
- Impact Investing—Impact investing refers to using financial investments to promote positive social and/or environmental impact. Impact investors can be individuals or institutions. For more information on impact investing, see the Social Impact Investment Taskforce and Mission Investors Exchange.
- Industrial Development Bonds—Manufacturers may receive tax-exempt financing for many types of manufacturing improvements through industrial development bonds. Public agencies issue the bonds on behalf of a manufacturer so the company can make capital investments; the bond offers a lower interest rate than traditional loans. These bonds may finance up to 100 percent of a project’s cost, but are limited to $10 million for tax-exempt status. For more information on these bonds, see the Council of Development Finance Agencies.
- Living Cities' Capital Absorption Resources—Living Cities has resources designed to help communities strengthen their ability to deploy capital for social and/or environmental purposes, such as a Capital Absorption Capacity Self-Assessment Tool, developed in partnership with the Harvard Initiative for Responsible Investment.
- New Markets Tax Credit Program of the CDFI Fund—The U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund provides funding to CDFIs to promote economic revitalization and community development. The New Market Tax Credits Program can help attract private investment capital to low-income communities by allowing investors to get a tax credit in exchange for making equity investments in Community Development Entities.
- Pay-for-Success Financing—Pay-for-success financing (sometimes called social impact bonds) sets up a contractual relationship between a social program and investors such that cost savings of the program can be returned to investors in the program similar to a traditional return on investment. This financing traditionally has funded programs that require large upfront investment and serve a large number of people. For more information on pay-for-success financing, see Social Finance, Inc., Third Sector Capital, and/or the Nonprofit Finance Fund, Pay for Success Learning Hub.
- Program-Related Investments—PRIs come from foundations and are below-market rate investments that are made with a targeted program objective. PRIs can take many forms: loans, loan guarantees, cash deposits, equity investments and other investments made for a specific social or environmental purpose. To investigate PRIs: 1) if you already receive funding from a foundation, talk to them to see if program-related investing is something they currently do or would be willing to explore; 2) organizations that receive PRIs often have existing relationships with foundations, so you may be in an advantageous position if these relationships are already in place.
- Spark Policy Institute's Blending and Braiding Toolkit—This toolkit can help you think about how to effectively combine and report on different funding sources.
- State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI)—The SSCBI is a $1.5 billion federal program designed to strengthen state programs that provide loans to small businesses and small manufacturers. Participating states can use federal funds for programs that leverage private lending to help finance small businesses and manufacturers that are creditworthy, but that are not getting the loans they need to expand and create job
- Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grants—The TIGER Discretionary Grant program provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) to invest in road, rail, transit, and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives and have a significant impact on a region or a metropolitan area.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program—The purpose of the B&I Guaranteed Loan Program is to improve, develop, or finance business, industry, and employment, and to improve the economic and environmental climate in rural communities.
- USDA's Community Facilities Program—Community Programs can make and guarantee loans to develop essential community facilities in rural areas and towns of up to 20,000 in population.
- USDA's Rural Business Investment Program—RBIP promotes economic development in mostly rural areas by helping to meet the equity capital investment needs of smaller enterprises in such areas.
- USDA's Rural Business Enterprise Grants—The RBEG program provides grants for rural projects that finance and facilitate development of small and emerging rural businesses help fund distance learning networks, and help fund employment related adult education programs.
- USDA's Rural Business Opportunity Grants—The RBOG program promotes sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis.
- USDA's Rural Development's Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA)—USDA announces the availability of money for many of its programs in the Federal Register.
- USDA's Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant—The REDLG program provides funding to rural projects through local utility organizations.
- USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)—Offering both loan guarantees and grants, REAP helps eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses to install renewable energy systems (such as solar panels or anaerobic digesters), helps them make energy efficiency improvements (such as installing irrigation pumps or replacing ventilation systems), and helps conduct energy audits and feasibility studies.
- U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration Workforce Development Grant Opportunities—Outlines grant opportunities related to training, workforce development, and employment.
- U.S. Small Business Administration's Impact Investment Fund—Supports small business investment strategies that maximize financial return while also yielding enhanced social, environmental and/or economic impact.