ACT Applauds Introduction of Small Business Environmental Assistance Bill

Reauthorization recognizes that trees and green space are good for business
College Park, Md. (January 27, 2010)- The Alliance for Community Trees (ACT) today commended Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) for introducing H.R. 4509, the Small Business Environmental Stewardship Assistance Act of 2010. 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. 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.

“Urban greening groups around the country stand ready to work with government and business on these types of smart growth, greening initiatives that engage citizens to transform their communities through landscaping and tree planting and promote workforce development in places where people live and work,” said Shannon Ramsay, Executive Director of Trees Forever.
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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.
H.R. 4509 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 introduction of H.R. 4509 is a reminder that for the hundreds of millions spent developing “green” technologies to make spaces function better environmentally, a small investment in green goods like trees and landscape plants can provide a low-cost, natural solution to meeting these far reaching goals.” said Corey Connors, ANLA’s Director of Legislative Relations. He continued, “the Small Business Environmental Stewardship Assistance Act creates job opportunities and generates cost savings for small businesses when they need it most.”
Related Resources:
H.R. 4509, Small Business Environmental Stewardship Assistance Act of 2010
S. 3279, Senate SBA Tree Planting Bill
Letter to U.S. House Representatives
Growing Healthier Greener Business Districts Fact Sheet
1990 Small Business Tree Planting Program
ANLA Knowledge Center (track legislation and send letters to your Congressmen)