ACT Applauds Introduction of Senate SBA Tree Planting Bill

Reauthorization recognizes that trees and green space are good for business
College Park, Md. (April 30, 2010)- The Alliance for Community Trees (ACT) today commended Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) for introducing S. 3279, A bill to reauthorize the national small business tree planting program. This legislation recognizes the critical role that the built environment- including green infrastructure- plays in order for small businesses to be able to create jobs, promote energy efficiency, and provide positive customer experiences.

Sen. Wyden was joined by original co-sponsors Sen. Kay Hagan (NC), Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR), Sen. Arlen Specter (PA) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI) on his legislation.
By reauthorizing the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) National Small Business Tree Planting Program, this legislation would provide timely assistance to beautify retail storefronts and rental housing and parks, turn Main Streets into Green Streets, and jump-start many municipal tree canopy initiatives.
“Renewal of the Small Business Tree Planting Program will bring jobs to hard hit areas while taking some of the financial heat off of municipalities and small businesses looking for ways to green and beautify their retail and commercial areas,” Wyden said. “I am happy to join Congressman Schrader in working to reinstate this program and offering a helping hand to America’s small businesses.”
A House version of the SBESA Act, H.R. 4509, was introduced by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) on January 26th of this year. H.R. 4509 has bi-partisan support and a growing number of co-sponsors.
Bill Status:

In healthy cities, business districts, city streets, and sidewalks are framed by green spaces filled with trees. Shoppers, diners, and pedestrians abound, drawn by the shelter, shade, and beauty of the tree canopy. These green elements cool and buffer pedestrian and outdoor seating areas from the traffic and noise of the street. There are green views from building windows and rooftop gardens. Inside shops, retail activity and sales improve, new clientele are developed and new relationships forged.
As research has shown, trees enhance community economic stability by attracting businesses and tourists.
* Customer Experience. Consumers say that green communities are more appealing places to shop, facilitate positive merchant interactions, and often have higher product quality. Whether tree-lined streets or pocket parks (the latter being preferable to consumers), trees send the signal that businesses care, which ultimately helps businesses attract shoppers.
* Boost Office Rental Rates and Worker Productivity. Social researchers have found that individuals prefer buildings with good landscaping and shade provided by trees. In fact, commercial office properties having quality landscapes rent for 7% higher rates. And when psychologists analyzed the findings, they found positioning desk workers to have a view of urban greenery results in greater job productivity and satisfaction and reduced absenteeism.
* Smart Growth. Business leaders recognize that smart growth provides quality of life, market opportunities, and stable investments. Because trees enhance economic stability by attracting businesses and tourists, communities are better designing commercial land use to include multi-modal mobility. Some communities are redeveloping small mall zones based on “complete street” principles, expanding plantings, and redeveloping the character of the place.
S. 3279 reauthorizes the SBA National Tree Planting Program at $50 million annually between fiscal years 2011 and 2015 to plant trees around retail storefronts, rental housing units and other public areas. This program also requires a 25 percent match for any grant under the program, including in-kind contributions such as the cost or value of providing care and maintenance for a period of three years after planting. This match ensures that both private and community investments are made for the installation and care of trees funded by this program. According to the National Association of State Foresters, more than 18,000 landscape firms and nonprofits were employed to plant more than 23 million trees across the country through the SBA program in the 1990s.
“The U.S. green industry stands ready to deliver the National Small Business Tree Planting Program, and looks forward to partnering with government and local non-profit organizations to create private-sector job opportunities in local communities across the United States,” said Corey Connors, ANLA’s Director of Legislative Relations. He continued, “This program would allow industry businesses to create and sustain jobs while relieving the stresses on local municipal budgets that currently have no funding for developing their community’s tree canopy. It’s a win-win.”
Related Resources:
S. 3279
H.R. 4509, Small Business Environmental Stewardship Assistance Act of 2010
Letter to U.S. Senators
Growing Healthier Greener Business Districts Fact Sheet
1990 Small Business Tree Planting Program
Trees Mean Jobs
ANLA Applauds Introduction of Senate SBA Tree Planting Bill
ANLA Knowledge Center (track legislation and send letters to your Congressmen)