Looking For "The Magic Portal" To Stimulus Funds

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Here’s an interesting peek into the frustrations of a small business hoping to score from the stimulus:

Infrastucturist: “I’d love to be hiring people,” says Jill Miller, a small business owner in St Louis. Her company, White Caps, Green Collars, specialises in painting rooftops white, a cheap and proven strategy for reducing energy consumption–and potentially a great way to put people to work. The combination of benefits suggest residential and commercial roof whitening as a perfect candidate for stimulus funding. Miller certainly thinks so. But all she’s found so far are bureaucratic dead ends. “People keep telling me what a perfect match it is,” she says. “But I can’t find the magic portal to get the funds.”

Nor, apparently, can anyone else in the “cool roofs” game. “I haven’t heard of anyone who has,” says Miller, who tracks the issue closely. Even as Congress debates the climate bill and contemplates whether stimulus funds are being spent too slowly to create enough jobs, there are apparently no efforts afoot to fund roof whitening as an effective and uncontroversial way to address both goals.

Recent scientific work suggests that if cities around the world “lightened up”–that is, made rooftops and paved surfaces more reflective–it would have the same effect as taking every car in existence off the roads for more than decade and delay the progression of global warming by approximately 20 years.

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UPDATE: Ms. Miller emailed us to dispute how this story was framed, here’s her take:

To say I hit a “bureaucratic dead end” is 100% inaccurate.  My elected officials, from my Ward Alderman to Senator Claire McCaskill herself, have been very helpful in pointing me in the right direction.  The city of St. Louis has received stimulus funds (millions?) for weatherization and energy-efficiency projects that companies can bid on.  An established business that’s properly certified can bid on these.
 
But my business is new.  As such, I’m not yet certified to bid on government contracts.  Thanks to my elected officials’ advice, I am now actively working on getting those certifications.  The only catch is that it takes 90 days, minimum.  By then, the weather will be colder, and roof-painting season probably will be concluded until April or May next year.
 
So I’d pointed out that pre-existing mechanisms are aren’t terribly speedy to begin with (and no doubt for good reason), making the route to stimulus funds more complex than I expected.  But I strongly support using stimulus funds create “shovel-ready” and “brush-ready” clean energy jobs, and hope it’ll work out for my company eventually.
 
In addition, I never claimed to be knowledgable about whether there are ARRA funds for white roofs in Missouri, or anywhere else in the country–much less whether any businesses have received funds for such projects.  How on this green earth would I know that?!?  A person would have to obtain and review a state-by-state list of projects to know what’s out there.

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