| Julie Faust, Digital Associate

Business Leaders Call for Climate Change Action

You might not realize how severe weather and climate change are impacting businesses, but business leaders are speaking out and making their stories heard. From tourism to farming, climate change is affecting companies from nearly every sector.

Here’s a round up of what some of them are saying:

Tourism

“Recent experience has me concerned that a fluctuating economy is not the only danger to my business. Climate change has brought
Chicago unpredictable and increasingly extreme weather.”  

--Holly Agra, President, Chicago’s First Lady Cruises,
Chicago Sun-Times 

Farming

“Why should you care? It’s pretty simple. If you drink milk or eat beef, you depend on alfalfa growers like me…We have been getting hit hard, and I think it is important for people in other parts of the country to understand how.”

-- Utah Farmer Jake Braken,
Provo Daily Herald 

Energy

“According to EPA, the public health and climate benefits associated with the Clean Power Plan are “worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion per year in 2030, far outweighing the costs of $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion.” The EPA’s proposal is an opportunity for leadership. Government officials, businesses, and stakeholders should embrace this proposal and work closely to get it done right for all of us to realize it’s far-reaching benefits."

--William Haas, Principal and founding member of Inova Energy Group, 
Environmental Leader.

Job Creation

In 2006, I started a solar energy company out of my garage that has grown into a multi-million dollar organization. I help my customers build cost-effective solar power systems that reliably generate electricity that’s cheaper than buying from the utility company. Moreover, solar power is a safe investment with returns that exceed the S&P 500. Solar creates American jobs that cannot be outsourced. Solar power makes so much financial sense that Wal-Mart has installed solar panels on over 100 of their stores in California."

--Deep Patel, Founder and CEO of GigaWatt, 
Ideas Laboratory

 

Technology

“Climate change is impacting business today. As a software technology company, I never imagined that we would be affected by the weather. Yet, with disruption after disruption, it is clear that climate change is something that no business can ignore. For my small firm alone, it has literally cost us tens of thousands of dollars in productivity. Our clients have experienced losses in the millions of dollars.”

-- Det Ansinn, Founder and President of BrickSimple, LLC,
Philadelphia Business Journal 

Finance 

“Companies need to do much more to explain to investors the climate-related risks they face and how they are managing them”

--Neeraj Sahai, President of Standard & Poor's,
Fortune

 


Posted In: Energy
| Garrett Lance, Policy Associate

Small Businesses Using Alternative Methods to Raise Capital

Most small business owners are financing their businesses without the help of loans, despite increased access to capital, according to a report by financial information firm Sageworks. 

Only 23 percent of current small business owners have ever applied for a small business loan, while nearly 77 percent have chosen other means of funding.

Instead, 59 percent of owners used personal savings to start their business and nearly 30 percent didn’t need any funding at all.  Increasingly, non-conventional sources of funding, like crowdfunding, are also removing barriers to capital.

Most business owners – 63 percent – chose not to apply for a loan because they didn’t want to take on debt. Another 24 percent found alternative funding because they didn’t think they would be approved for a loan.

Sageworks Chairman Brain Hamilton thinks this might be a good thing.

“That businesses have greater access to capital is good news,” he said. “But, it’s even better news that they’re being cautious about accepting that capital and debt.”

Posted In: Economic Trends
| Garrett Lance, Policy Associate

President signs bill to strengthen workforce development

On Tuesday, President Obama signed into law legislation that revamps federal training programs to help workers develop the skills they need to compete in the global economy.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act, which will eliminate duplicate programs and address the “skills gap,” received overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House, with a 415-6 vote, and the Senate, with a 95-3 vote.

While the U.S. faces a 6.1 percent unemployment rate, 4.6 million job openings are not being filled because businesses cannot find qualified applicants, particularly in skills-based jobs.

The act addresses this gap by including the following provisions:

  • Streamlines job training by eliminating 15 duplicate or infeffective programs
  • Applies unifor performance indicators for all federal workforce programs
  • Maintains state-level funding and eliminates the "sequence of services" to allow flexibility in addressing local needs
  • Focus programs to address skills needed for industries with high worker demand
Posted In: Jobs
| Garrett Lance, Policy Associate

House Passes Short-Term Transportation Patch with Bipartisan Support

The House voted Tuesday to provide funding for highway and transit projects through approximately May 2015 in response to a looming shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund. Without action, many transportation construction projects around the country would come to a halt beginning August 1 because federal funding for the states to pay workers and purchase supplies will be cut by nearly a third.

The bill received bipartisan approval, with a vote of 367 to 55. Backers included 186 Democrats and 181 Republicans, while 10 Democrats and 45 Republicans opposed it. The  bill, which President Obama has indicated he will sign if passed by Congress, now moves to the Senate for consideration.

The Highway Trust Fund is the main source of federal funding for repair and construction of roads, bridges, and mass transit. Current projections indicate that the fund will be become insolvent by the end of next month. The bill provides additional funds to sustain HTF spending, which would otherwise be cut by 28 percent on August 1, threatening up to 700,000 jobs.

The bill approves a $10.8 billion transfer to the Highway Trust Fund, to be paid for using customs fees, pension smoothing, and excess money from a fund to repair leaking underground fuel storage tanks. 

While the bill passed this week averts the immediate transportation funding crisis, long-term funding for federal transportation projects remains in jeopardy. Adding to the uncertainty, Congress has failed to pass the standard surface transportation spending authorization legislation in recent years, and since 2009, has instead passed nine short-term bills. The uncertainty has caused many states to delay the start of new projects.

The House plan averts an immediate crisis, but business and community leaders from around the country continue to urge federal officials to develop a long-term funding plan that gives states and localities the certainty they need to make longer-term investments.

Business Forward will continue to keep you informed with new developments on this issue. Learn more about the crisis in transportation funding here

| Shumway Marshall, Digital Director

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to Talk with Business Leaders

 Sign up for a conference call with Gina McCarthy

Business leaders from across the country – from manufacturing and restaurant owners to insurance agents and farmers – have said they are experiencing losses due to severe weather. These events are becoming more frequent and increasingly catastrophic because of climate change. Proposals from the Obama Administration, including the new carbon pollution proposal from the EPA, aim to slow climate change.

You’re invited to a conference call on July 24 with Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. You’ll participate in a discussion about what the Clean Power Plan means for America’s businesses.  This call will also be an opportunity to share your thoughts and questions directly with Gina McCarthy.

What: Conference call for business leaders with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
When: Thursday, July 24 at 4:00 p.m. ET / 1:00 p.m. PT

Listen to the full call:

 
Posted In: Business Forward Events