DNR to Help Small Businesses

Building on its commitment to protect the state’s natural resources while supporting the economy and wellbeing of its citizenry, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is offering a new level of support through the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program.

“Wisconsin’s small businesses play a critical role in the economy, yet they also face a variety of challenges,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, who participated on Sept 10 in the fourth annual Governor’s Small Business Summit. “The Small Business Environmental Assistance Program has been expanded to work in partnership with small businesses and support their efforts to grow in ways that create new opportunities while preserving our state’s environmental assets.”

The Small Business Environmental Assistance Program offers a comprehensive set of resources and tools to help small businesses determine their environmental responsibilities with respect to federal and state regulations. The program also helps small businesses identify opportunities to take advantage of innovative practices that may produce cost savings.

Featuring an online guide to permits, as well as resources on air, water, environmental cleanup and waste regulations, the program and its staff members stand ready to help companies do the right thing for the environment and economy. Information on endangered species and wetland regulations and technical and financial assistance with redeveloping brownfields also is available.

Kimberly Ake, small business adviser with DNR, said the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program has been expanded in response to requests from small businesses for tools and guidance to help them remain in compliance. During 2013, some 88 percent of the small businesses contacting DNR through the toll-free hotline and small business program email were seeking information about more than one program or permit requirement.

“Wisconsin’s small businesses asked and DNR answered by offering streamlined access to the best advice available,” Ake said. “While the program doesn’t issue permits or process applications, our specialists are familiar with Wisconsin’s leading industries and can connect small businesses with the appropriate resources or people to answer questions involving multiple environmental areas.”

The program features a staff of three employees with experience in regulatory programs who have been brought together in one location to share best practices and advocate on behalf of small business. The program serves companies with 100 or fewer employees that are not major sources of air pollution and do not produce large quantities of hazardous waste.

Examples of small companies that might benefit from the program include auto-body repair shops; dry cleaners; gas stations; health care facilities; metal fabricating and machine shops; and printers, to name a few.

The Small Business Environmental Assistance Program builds on other DNR initiatives to support the economy while protecting and managing the state’s natural resources. These efforts include the Green Tier program, which supports companies committed to going beyond environmental compliance and now counts small businesses as 40 percent of the program participants. DNR also has established sector specialists in key industries such as agribusiness, green manufacturing, energy and printing to provide specific guidance.

To learn more about the Small Business Environmental Assistance program or contact a representative, visit and search for “Small Business.” Program representatives also may be reached through the small business hotline at 855.889.3021 or by emailing [email protected].