HOUSTON – As the former mayor of Nettleton, Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said he routinely had small business owners come to him seeking grants and assistance.
And Presley was in Houston Aug. 21, to tout the state’s energy incentive program for new small businesses that has already helped 1,032 new businesses with over $700,000 in utility bill waivers and discounts.
“The Small Business Rate Incentive can help a new business waive the utility deposit and can give them a 25-percent discount on their base natural gas bill for a year,” said Presley. “The deposit can save a new business about $1,500 in start-up costs alone. That can be a big savings for a business starting out.”
And Presley said those cost saving measures can often tip the scale for an entrepreneur seeking to go into business.
“Two out of every three jobs created in this state this year have been created by a small business,” said Presley. “Being able to waive that utility deposit means that business owner can invest that money in equipment, improving their building or buying product. It can be the advantage that makes the venture feasible.”
Presley said the incentive is open to any new business. He said details can be found at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling his office at 1-800-356-6428.
“Let’s say you want to open a bakery, which is a small business that uses a lot of natural gas,” said Presley. “This incentive could be just the edge that you need to make your business plan work.”
Presley said these incentives are set to expire this year and he urged businesses to contact him and see if this program or another PSC program can help.
“Since the Commission approved the programs for the five major Mississippi utilities, over 1,000 small businesses have seen tangible savings of over $700,000 in overhead costs,” said Presley. “That’s money that can now be invested in creating new jobs and growing the Mississippi economy.”
Presley pointed out small businesses are a cornerstone of any local economy. He pointed out they buy locally, hire locally and pay local taxes.
“Small businesses are sadly forgotten in many areas of government, but not at the PSC,” said Presley. “These small business owners are the backbone of our state’s economy.
“They are the folks at your service station, local diner and Main Street businesses,” he added. “They have no lobbyists, yet they are, many times, the ones putting people to work. I want to make sure they get help doing that.”
Presley commended the utilities’ work in helping small business, but warned the Mississippi economy still needs the benefits that the programs provide.
“As the economy grows, entrepreneurs will begin to see opportunities to open businesses and create new jobs. We should not allow high utility costs to dissuade them from this goal,” Presley said. “Now is not the time to stop this very successful program.”
Patrick Hyde, a sales manager for Atmos Energy in Columbus, said the main qualifications are a new meter at a new location.
“All new businesses qualify,” said Hyde. “This program is working and we are glad to be a part of this.”
Atmos is absorbing the cost of the waiver and first year billing and Presley said there is no expense to his office or taxpayers.
Wednesday’s meeting was hosted by the Chickasaw Development Foundation and is one of 18 Presley has scheduled across Northeast Mississippi.
“This is one of the most robust programs of its kind in the nation.” said Presley. “It can help a small business open its doors today. People just need to take advantage of it.”