Share

MontCo bill would create funding program for green companies

|
Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson

Green businesses in Montgomery County might be getting a check from the county for up to $25,000 as part of a proposal by county lawmakers.

The "Green Organization Supplement" -- legislation introduced to the County Council on Tuesday -- would allow environmentally conscious organizations to apply for up to $25,000 from the county.

Councilman Roger Berliner, D-Bethesda, sponsored the bill as part of the county's effort to attract more biotech and green energy companies.

"Our county is poised by virtue of its environmental ethics to attract green business," he said.

The bill was created to help the county establish an environmental program similar to one that matches a certain amount of money for biotech companies, said Steve Silverman, the county's director of economic development.

To qualify, businesses would need to offer a product or service that improves the environment, which includes sanitation, water quality and energy, among other areas.

Applicants would have to be verified as environmentally sustainable by the county's Department of Environmental Protection or another organization.

The program also would allow for money to be given to individual investors who put up to at least $5,000 in a green company.

With a tight budget, Berliner said his proposal probably won't come to fruition for a few years, but he said he wanted to get the ball rolling after the Montgomery County Green Economy Task Force recommended the measure in a 2010 report.

The task force recommended that the Department of Economic Development -- as well as other county agencies -- make a stronger commitment to green development and allow financial assistance for companies investing in green technologies and practices.

Silverman said because the fund hasn't been established, it's hard to determine how much money would be available to spend. Getting the bill moving now will allow the proposed fund to be included in County Executive Ike Leggett's budget considerations for fiscal 2014.

"We think this will put Montgomery County on the map for start-up green companies," Silverman said.

Berliner said the bill is a base for the county to work from, and its language could change in the coming months.

"We may be tightening some language up in the bill," he said, adding that the $25,000 is a base number that can be raised or reduced. "This is just a chance for us to get this out there."

A public hearing has been set for Jan. 22.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment