For businesses looking to make eco-friendly upgrades to their organization, navigating the process of acquiring federal funding can be a headache. A new web application developed by Associate Professor of Business Michael Sheridan and graduate assistant Alyssa Bianchini ‘23g (Business Administration) promises to help more businesses and entrepreneurs access resources for which they qualify.
Their Inflation Reduction Act Navigation Tool is designed to help business owners and individuals support their sustainability initiatives by easing the process of accessing programs available via the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
The easy-to-use tool is available free online now and takes just a few minutes to complete. Users will answer a few simple questions about their organizations and projects, and the tool will generate details for each available funding option, including eligibility requirements, application deadlines and funding amounts.
Simplifying a Complex Process
Signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act includes provisions to reduce costs of vital goods and services, including clean energy programs. A wide range of subsidies are available, but many businesses and organizations may not have the time, resources or expertise to understand their own eligibility.
Sheridan immediately recognized the opportunity to contribute his own knowledge to help explain its sustainability benefits.
“I wanted to create something that anyone could use to figure out what to sign up for,” said Sheridan. “This is applicable to any for-profit company, nonprofit organization, school, government, agency, consumer, or farmer. We have organized the information in a way that is understandable to make it less cumbersome for users.”
Sheridan and Bianchini emphasized simplicity in creating their IRA Navigation Tool. Users don’t have to pull lots of forms and read lots of fine print to figure out which benefits they qualify for – using this tool, they just have to input some basic information, and then the tool generates a spreadsheet of relevant federal resources.
“When you’re trying figure out which programs you may be eligible for, it can take a lot of time, so this questionnaire helps you narrow that search down,” said Bianchini.
Working for a Public Good
The free tool is something of a passion project for both Sheridan and Bianchini. They believe the IRA has the potential to accelerate a transformational, clean energy economy, but its success depends on the funding reaching the professionals who are implementing these kinds of programs.
“The sustainability movement is not going away, it’s only going to get bigger,” said Bianchini. “There are no cons to taking sustainable action. By making sustainable choices, we’re protecting public health and the environment, providing economic stability to companies, and emphasizing the need for social equity.”
For Bianchini, collaborating with her faculty mentor on this project has created an invaluable opportunity to practice impactful research and scholarship with an expert in business sustainability.
Sheridan has long been a leading advocate of sustainable practices in New Paltz’s School of Business. He helped launch a Sustainability Track for undergraduate business students and has been a consistent and active member of the Sustainability Faculty Fellows community at the University.
“Being around someone who was so passionate about this subject motivated me to do my best work,” said Bianchini. “This hands-on experience allowed me to take what I’ve learned in the classroom thus far and apply it to create something that will help people in the long run.”