By J.J. KINDRED
Knoxville-based Quality Machine and Welding Company, a steel fabricator, is one of many companies feeling great about its operations these days.
The company is one of many Tennessee businesses to receive funds from Pathway Lending’s $50 million Energy Efficiency Loan Program, a collaborative effort launched in August of last year by the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Pinnacle Financial Partners, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
With the program, companies like Quality Machine and Welding replaced 222 lighting fixtures, achieving significant, long-term energy savings while increasing interior light quality, productivity and profitability.
Jeff Roth, owner of Quality Machine and Welding Company said in a statement that the Energy Efficiency Loan Program provided the business with access to a below-market rate loan for energy efficiency projects that is unattainable from traditional sources.
Pathway Lending, based out of Nashville with offices in Knoxville and throughout the state, provides loans to businesses lacking access to traditional financing options throughout Tennessee.
Amy Bunton, senior vice president of Pathway Lending, said the program was created to help financial barriers that companies encounter at some point. “We’re trying to implement energy efficiency projects, so we believe this is a great compliment to collaborative and private agencies,” Bunton said. “It helps companies become more competitive and profitable, and helps their operating costs.
“A lot of companies naturally know that taking some operating costs out of their company is a good thing,” Bunton continued, “and they’re working for ways to do that. What we try to do is by having a financing transaction involved in this project, they can help improve their cash flow. They can keep capital for operating purposes or do other projects to benefit the company.”
Bunton said the program allows for commercial industrial and private non-profits to apply.
“We really believe strongly that manufacturing and rural health care can yield a tremendous savings for our program,” Bunton said. “We have done extensive outreach and have spoken to thousands of companies over the last year. More than 250 companies have expressed strong interest in applying, and we’ve had 125 companies actually start the application process.”
Bunton added that the application process can be “pretty abbreviated as long as a company is prepared to go through it. We ask that they prepare with complete financial information, as well as a full scope of work on the project they want to implement. They need to know what the costs are associated with the project. The process can take from three weeks to six months, depending on what stage the company is in and how educated they are.
“We are independent, non-profit agency with a very regional focus on what can be accomplished,” Bunton continued. “We are flexible and open, and help with Tennessee companies and help them become more competitive.”