WASHINGTON, March 13 /U.S. Newswire/ -- EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman outlined a newly revised small-business strategy, new initiatives and the creation of the National Center for Environmental Innovation at the first "National Summit on Small Business and the Environment" Thursday.

"EPA recognizes and supports small businesses, the backbone of our nation's economy. State, local, trade associations, the Small Business Administration and other federal agencies can work together to assist small businesses to meet environmental obligations, while understanding a business's fiscal obligations," said Whitman.

The National Summit on Small Business Environment gathered key business influencers from national, state and local levels. SBA administrator Hector Barreto remarked on the significance of the EPA and SBA partnership and commended the EPA for understanding the uniqueness of small businesses.

"Small business is not small when you consider its relevance to the country. Clean natural environment and economic strength are inextricably connected. Owners of these businesses are some of the best people to preserve the environment because they live where they do business," said Barreto.

EPA small-business initiatives discussed include:

  • The opening of two Compliance Assistance Centers, which will focus on the auto salvaging and construction sectors. Combined with EPA's other 10 compliance centers, these information portals help businesses to understand and meet their environmental obligations.
  • The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, which awards small high-tech firms that develop progressive environmental technologies.
  • A "Presidential Green Chemistry Award Program" that recognizes businesses that develop environmentally safe chemical products.
  • A "Design for the Environment" program that increases the competitiveness of small businesses by spurring the innovation of cleaner technologies.
  • E-rulemaking to assist small-business owners and operators in understanding complex environmental rules and regulations.

Other announcements included the creation of the EPA National Center for Environmental Innovation, headed by Director Jay Benforado, and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Park Service (NPS). The MOU creates a partnership with the NPS and seeks environmental performance improvement among park businesses and contractors.

Copyright 2003, U.S. Newswire