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TDEC Small Business Environmental Assistance Program named best in nation

Pictured L-R: Crystal Warren, TDEC’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program; Chris Lynch, Vice-Chair of the National Small Business Environmental Assistance Program; Donovan Grimwood, TDEC’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program; Matt Taylor, TDEC’s Office of Sustainable Practices.

A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) program that helps small businesses understand and comply with environmental regulations has been named the best in the nation by the National Small Business Environmental Assistance Program.

The national organization’s Excellence Award was announced this month at a ceremony in Chattanooga. The award recognizes exemplary performance in compliance assistance, sustainability, advocacy, and collaboration at the national level.

“This is a great example of how TDEC can be a resource, not just a regulator, when it comes to helping businesses navigate environmental requirements,” said TDEC Commissioner David Salyers. “We are proud of the work we have done with Tennessee small businesses, and we are grateful for this national recognition.”

The state’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program (SBEAP) helps Tennessee small businesses with environmental regulations. SBEAP staff recognize that small businesses are experts in their fields, but likely not proficient in understanding sometimes complex regulations. SBEAP staff are not regulators, so small businesses will not be penalized for reporting relevant environmental information when requesting assistance. The program serves as a liaison between regulatory agencies and the businesses. Their assistance activities may also include assistance internally to other TDEC divisions and collaboration with other departments such as the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

The SBEAP develops outreach opportunities and materials such as training programs, brochures, and webinars, to help small businesses with state and federal regulations that affect them. It also provides one-on-one assistance to small businesses to guide them through the regulatory process. Most of the assistances are related to air regulations, but the staff also provide assistance related to water and land regulations.

The program defines a small business as any business with less than 100 employees and is not a major source of air emissions subject to Title V air regulations or a large quantity generator of hazardous waste. The staff helps small businesses with any environmental questions they may have. The services are free and confidential.

SBEAPs were established as part of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, and most states have one, including some local programs in different states. The programs receive no federal funding. They are supported by state air permit fees.

To learn more about Tennessee’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program, visit our website here: