City to give more businesses money for energy-efficient improvements

by: Torie Wells Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The city of Charlotte is getting ready to give more local businesses money to make energy-efficient improvements. That also means bigger paychecks for local people.

SMS Catering Services is a family company that has been in Charlotte for 40 years.

"Employees look at us as family," said owner Robert Freeman Jr.

Those employees are now getting more work because of a new air conditioning unit. Before, the company had to rent one or go without.

"We're averaging another one or two events a week," said co-owner Robert Freeman III.

That means part-time employees are seeing almost full-time hours. And soon, more people could be hired to fill those part-time slots. The air conditioning unit, a new power system and more efficient lights will also save the company money.

"Our return on the investment shouldn't be more than 5-6 years," said Freeman III.

The company said it couldn't have done it without the city of Charlotte's Commercial Building Retrofit Grant.

It cost the company about $74,000 to do all the energy improvements, including the air conditioning unit. The grant gave them about $20,000, which helped them do the project this year instead of having to wait.

The grants also mean more business for the companies doing the installation.

In the first three months of this year, the city tracked more than 4,800 hours funded this way.

Meghan McDermott's company has seen a boost.

"We had a huge demand for our energy efficiency services," said McDermott, owner of High Performance Building Solutions.

Enough demand that when her previous energy company downsized in April, she was able to start her own.

She said the money is helping small businesses that wouldn't otherwise invest right now. And it is a trend she thinks will continue.

"There are several property managers that did the last round of funding and they are looking to do the next round," said McDermott.

That could mean more jobs for her company as well.

"Hopefully by the end of the year, we'll be able to bring on more people," said McDermott.

The next round of applications is due Oct. 5. For more information, click here.