An NMSU resource to boost small businesses

Josh White, owner of Syzygy Tile in Silver City, discusses his operation with New Mexico State University College of Engineering staff and students, who provided an on-site, pollution prevention and energy-efficiency assessment. (Courtesy of NMSU)

For small-business owners, finding ways to cut expenses can be essential. New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering is uncovering cost-saving methods for small-business owners across the state.

“We’ve implemented several of their recommendations that have led to a reduction in our utility bills and helped us improve our waste management streams,” said Josh White, owner of Syzygy Tile in Silver City.

White worked with the pollution prevention and energy efficiency assessment services offered through the Engineering New Mexico Resource Network at NMSU.

“I was surprised to learn about a couple of recycling opportunities that were available that we didn’t know about. It always feels good to recycle, and we’ve been able to make sure even less of our waste ends up in a landfill.”

Through a pair of federal grants – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 Pollution Prevention grant program and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Development grant – NMSU provides technical assistance and information to businesses on cost-effective ways to reduce and prevent waste streams from daily processes and identifies opportunities for energy efficiency savings. From 2015 to 2017, NMSU’s engineering extension services helped businesses in the state save more than $4.7 million.

As a resource for New Mexicans, not only is NMSU helping small-business owners with simple adjustments but also helping to achieve the university’s land-grant mission, according to Patricia Sullivan, associate dean for outreach and recruitment in NMSU’s College of Engineering.

A Syzygy Tile employee works on tile during an on-site, pollution prevention and energy efficiency assessment from New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering staff and students. (Courtesy of Nmsu)

“These are very easily changed things by habit – turning off lights, not covering vent holes on equipment that is intended to be energy-efficient. It’s understanding how to utilize what’s within their business operations and how they gain efficiencies and cost savings,” she said. “Our engineering extension services extend beyond the on-site assessments. We have a strong partnership with federal and state agencies and other business service providers across the state, and collectively, we are working to connect businesses with relevant services to better their operational processes.”

The EPA and USDA grants allow NMSU engineering extension staff to provide no-cost, on-site assessments, often two to three days that result in a detailed written report on recommendations for operational efficiencies. Engineering Extension Specialist Jalal Rastegary added that educating business owners on best practices is key.

The simplicity of the evaluation surprised White.

“I found the assessment process to be painless,” he said. “Everyone was very professional, and it required less time and effort than I had anticipated.

“I would definitely encourage other small businesses to reach out to NMSU to get their help. Not doing so is leaving money on the table,” he said.

Additionally, NMSU has partnered with the New Mexico Economic Development Department and the NM Energy, Minerals and Natural Resource’s Energy Conservation and Management Division and USDA to expand business services through the New Mexico Rural Efficient Business program. To date, the program has provided workshops on energy efficiency in Gallup, Las Vegas, Deming, Clovis, Carlsbad and Taos.

“Partnering with NMSU during our Rural Efficient Business Program has been a wonderful experience. As we travel around the state, we have been able to connect businesses and bring awareness to their services and expertise. We have seen numerous businesses benefit from improving their energy efficiency, which is a win for their respective communities and New Mexico,” said Johanna Nelson, finance development specialist with NM Economic Development.

NMSU engineering extension services support industries such as agriculture, beverage, food processing, grocery stores, health care, hospitality, manufacturing and microbrewing.

To learn more about NMSU’s engineering extension services, visit http://engrnm.nmsu.edu.

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