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Posts Tagged ‘Unitil’

Ask CJ-How can businesses become energy efficient without overspending?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

“You have to spend money to save money” is an expression used by many women to justify their shopping habits.  When I say “many women” I really am speaking for myself but it feels better to try and create a community.  The saying is quite true on levels that go well beyond trips to Cole Haan’s outlet sale or an upright freezer filled with boxes of waffles and Texas Toast. 

If you spend money providing educational opportunities for your business’s staff you should expect to save money in the long run with better productivity.  If you invest in marketing, your business should reap the rewards with increased activity.  Another smart investment that companies are making, anticipating a future payoff, is in energy efficiency.  You may have to spend money to save money, but there are some fantastic energy efficiency programs available now that can reduce the initial investment required.

Bob Reals, bob.reals@dred.state.nh.us, manages two energy programs through our office; an energy audit program as well as a technical assistance program.  The energy audit grant program, funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), has been so successful that Bob expects all of the allotted funds will soon be expended.  Through the program, 80 New Hampshire businesses have received in-depth energy audits, as well as assistance in securing low-interest loans to implement those recommendations. 

While our grant funding may be winding down, our office continues to provide technical assistance which helps businesses navigate the numerous energy efficiency resources.  For a list of those resources, visit our website, http://www.nheconomy.com/business-services/energy-efficiency-programs.aspx.  After reading the list, I’m glad to know Bob is available to help you weed through it all and make the process easier. 

What impresses me is that you can utilize more than one program at a time.  For instance, The Retail Merchants Association of NH will pay for 60% of the cost of an energy audit for its members (non-members pay a $100 application fee).  The group then offers rebates for 20% of the implementation costs, up to $30,000.  A qualifying business can combine this program with our program, which would cover the other 40% of the energy audit.  Both organizations will work with the business to see that any and all other rebates and incentive programs have been uncovered for maximum savings. 

Ken Young of Young’s Restaurant in Durham took advantage of the RMANH program and he expects to save nearly 50% on his energy costs.  “I knew that there had to be opportunities for me to reduce my energy costs, but did not realize the significant savings that could be realized through efficiency.  The entire audit process was a great education for me.  In just the first couple months after the project, I am seeing cost savings that I would have never guessed could have been achieved while greatly improving the comfort within the restaurant”.  While our office is funded through ARRA funds, the program at RMANH is funded through a grant from the Public Utilities Commission’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (RGGI).

You don’t need to own your building to make improvements.  Tenants can work with their landlords to create a more efficient and valuable facility.

Last week I met with an Exeter business who has been working with Unitil to take advantage of the rebates and incentives that they offer their utility customers.  The company has already used Unitil’s incentive program to replace all of their lighting and they are now in the process and looking into replacing their entire HVAC system with more energy efficient units.  Through the RGGI program Unitil is able to offer a 0% On Bill Financing in which a company can borrow up to $50,000 to implement energy efficiency improvements.  In addition to the program offered by Unitil the company is working with our office to seek out additional assistance with their project to complement Unitil’s program.

You still need to spend money to save money but it may be a heck of a lot less than you envisioned and the long-term savings and environmental impact may be a deal you just can’t turn down.

Christine J. Davis works for the N.H. Division of Economic Development as a resource specialist serving businesses in Rockingham and Strafford counties. Her role is to connect businesses with the available resources so that they may remain viable and growing entities in the community. She can be reached at Christine.Davis@dred.state.nh.us.

Ms. Davis lives in Exeter with her two daughters.  When not performing her work or parenting duties she can be found volunteering with her girls for the Chamber Children’s Fund, “hitting the gym,” or spending time with friends and family.

Seacoast Business Expo Slated for October 20th

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

The Seacoast Business Expo, the largest business networking event of the year. This event takes place on Thursday, October 20th from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Celestica Building, 72 Pease Boulevard on Pease Tradeport in Portsmouth.

Each year this one-of-a-kind event brings together dozens of businesses and hundreds of contacts, giving all the opportunity to effectively connect with hundreds of potential business partners during the 3-hour event.

The Seacoast Business Expo is presented by the Seacoast Chamber Alliance, a collaboration of  members from the Dover, Exeter, Hampton, Portsmouth, Rochester and Somersworth Chambers. The Alliance is designed to enhance membership value, to promote regional economic development, and to reduce expenses for the independent chambers by realizing economies of scale.

Executive directors from the participating chambers are excited to have the Alliance take center stage at the premier networking event on the Seacoast. Last years event drew hundreds of people for an evening of networking and camaraderie. Business connections truly happen at the Seacoast Business Expo.

Public Service of New Hampshire is the event underwriter. This year’s gold sponsor is Service Credit Union. Other event sponsors include Daystar, D.F. Richard Energy and Unitil.

Exhibitor space is currently available for this event. For more information on exhibiting at the Expo, please contact the Exeter or Hampton Chambers at 772-2411 or 926-8718.

Partners include Clear Channel Communications and Gentle Giant Moving Company.

A variety of local restaurants will provide hors d’oeuvres, and there will be a cash bar. Cost is $12 for pre-registered Chamber members, $20 at the door. To attend, register online at seacoastexpo.com.

Businesses interested in exhibiting should contact Krysta at the Exeter Area Chamber at 603/772-2411.

myExpertNet – Free Online Business Solutions From Industry Experts

Friday, November 5th, 2010

I’m glad to share this update on our myExpertNet initiative sent along by the Knowledge Institute’s Deb Osgood, one of our chief friends, co-conspirators and collaborators.

myExpertNet is growing!

An innovative new online social community called myExpertNet is providing an essential link for individuals in New Hampshire who are interested in starting their own business or already in business.

online-business-networking1Located on the web at www.myExpertNet.org, individuals can pose questions about issues related to owning and growing a small business. These questions are forwarded to prescreened, volunteer business practitioners who offer a response at no cost based on their respective areas of expertise. Unlike most social media, this prescreening process assures that questions are responded to by individuals who work in the field or particular business disciplinary area being investigated.

myExpertNet is a free public service available to all New Hampshire residents. There are presently more than 100 “Experts” listed in 26 business topic categories. In the past four months, myExpertNet has served an average of over 1,100 visitors per month and fielded questions related to strategies for increasing sales in a down economy, how to take a patented invention to market, where to get a tax identification number and how to launch a web-based business.

The growth of myExpertNet has a lot to do with the viral marketing nature of being a social community. Registered experts are spreading the word through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and website links to help more people access the business advice they require. Individuals are emailing and texting each other as they benefit from the business advice that they are receiving.

With more individuals considering self-employment and other forms of entrepreneurship as viable alternatives to working for someone else or for subsidizing employment income, myExpertNet provides a timely and much needed source of quality networking.
myExpertNet is a public/private collaborative initiative between Knowledge Institute, New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, Comcast Business Class and Public Service of New Hampshire, Centrix Bank and Unitil. To pose a business question, register as an expert or learn more, visit www.myExpertNet.org or contact Knowledge Institute at Info@bdki.com or (603) 658-0340.

New Online Virtual Community for Small Business Launched

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

As part of a continuing effort to connect businesses with the resources and services they need to be successful and grow, and to answer questions growing small businesses may have, the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development yesterday unveiled MyExpertNet.

Dr. William Osgood of the Knowledge Institute looks on as Governor John Lynch announces the unveiling of the MyExpertNet initiative.

Dr. William Osgood of the Knowledge Institute looks on as Governor John Lynch announces the unveiling of the MyExpertNet initiative.

MyExpertNet is a virtual community created through a public-private partnership where small businesses can get answers to business questions from qualified experts, and connect with other members of the business community to share ideas, resources and markets. The initiative is the result of collaboration between the Knowledge Institute, New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, Comcast, Public Service of New Hampshire, Centrix Bank and Unitil.

“Over the last several years we have worked to give businesses the tools needed to help them be successful, to grow their companies and create jobs,” Gov. John Lynch said. Under Gov. Lynch, the State of New Hampshire has reinstated the Job Training Fund, and more than 7,000 workers from across New Hampshire have received enhanced training. The State, which has 7th best business tax environment in the nation, created a Research and Development Tax Credit to help innovative companies grow.

“These have been difficult economic times for our state and our businesses. That is why it is important we continue to work with small businesses to help ensure they have what they need to grow,” Gov. Lynch said. “Through MyExpertNet, small businesses can have their questions answered by one of the many volunteer experts. It is important to connect business people with the information they need to be successful and this is one more way we are doing that.”

Over 40 business professionals have volunteered to serve as experts and provide their time, skills and expertise for the initiative. These experts will cover areas ranging from accounting and energy efficiency to federal contracting and international trade. Additional experts will be added in the future, providing entrepreneurs with the opportunity to have their questions answered by more than one professional in each subject area.

“MyExpertNet is an environment where all participants add value and all receive value a true win-win for all involved,” said Knowledge Institute President/CFO Dr. William Osgood, architect of the initiative. “This innovative concept also represents a model that other states can embrace to further the positive impact in building small business strength across the country. We’re pleased that New Hampshire is, once again, a leader in this critical arena.”

Comcast's Peter Marsh discusses how his company has supported the creation of the new virtual community for small businesses.

Comcast's Peter Marsh discusses how his company has supported the creation of the new virtual community for small businesses.

Major sponsor Comcast has committed to run a MyExpertNet promotional television spot throughout its New Hampshire operating area to help increase awareness of the service.

“Spreading the word about this innovative new initiative ensures that more businesses are given the opportunity to grow and thrive,” said Peter Marsh, Vice President of Business Services for Comcast’s Greater Boston Region. “Comcast is pleased to help small business owners stay focused on growing their business by connecting local owners with the best thought leaders on MyExpertNet.”

“In today’s fast-paced economy, the ability of the public and private sectors to work cooperatively is key in supporting job creation and building an environment where everyone feels responsible for building the economy,” added Public Service of New Hampshire Business Development Manager Gordon Tuttle. “MyExpertNet not only builds closer relationships between the government and the business community, it creates the type of virtual mentorships between experts and entrepreneurs that truly define the term `paying it forward.'”

Sojourn Partners Managing Partner Russ Ouellette, an expert in the “management” category, said that he is pleased to be part of an initiative that allows entrepreneurs to relieve some of their anxiety about business creation and development.

“Anyone who has ever started a business knows that the process is daunting at best and terrifying at worst,” he said. “To have someone who has been through what you’re going through and who is willing to take the time to help you navigate the rough waters is invaluable. This is a great initiative.”

To learn more about MyExpertNet, visit www.myexpertnet.org. Business professionals interested in joining the online expert community are asked to contact Dr. William Osgood at (603) 658-0340 or wro@buzgate.org. To view a list of the registered experts, visit http://www.myexpertnet.org/volunteers.html.