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EcoLink for Ohio Residents and Small Businesses
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About EcoLink
Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is EcoLink?
The Energy conservation for Ohioans (ECO-Link) is a partnership between the Treasurer of Ohio and eligible state banks designed to support Ohio homeowners in improving their energy efficiency while stimulating business for local home improvement stores and contractors. EcoLink:

  • Provides up to a 3% interest rate reduction on loans
  • Applies the interest rate reduction on up to $50,000 of a new or existing loans
  • Requires that at least 50% of the loan proceeds be used for energy-efficient upgrades

 


What upgrades are eligible?
Eligible energy-efficient upgrades span a wide array of products and renovations including but not limited to: lighting & system controls, heating & cooling systems, renewable energy systems, weatherization projects, as well as energy-efficient appliances, equipment, and vehicles. Please contact the Treasurer's office to find out more about eligible energy-efficient upgrades at 1-800-228-1102.


Why use EcoLink for your small business?

  • EcoLink your small business with benefits of improved energy performance
  • Realize the savings of reduced energy costs and up to a 3% interest rate reduction on your small business loan
  • Revive your community by improving your facility with local contractors
  • Rejuvenate your small business by consolidating debt, improving your facility and lowering overall interest expenses and monthly expenses
  • Revitalize your small business by using at least 50% of your loan for energy-efficient facility modifications and equipment upgrades

 


Who is eligible to install business upgrades?
You may use a contractor of your choice, contingent on the lender's approval. You may also install your upgrades yourself with proper documentation, such as receipts.


How do I qualify?
Home and small business owners must meet the following requirements:

  • MUST have headquarters in Ohio
  • MUST have less than 150 employees
  • MUST have a majority of employees be Ohio residents
  • MUST maintain offices and operating facilities exclusively in Ohio
  • MUST use at least 50% of the loan proceeds for qualifying energy-efficient upgrades; the other 50% can be used for other business expenses
  • MUST be able to save or create jobs in Ohio

 


What is the process?
Follow these steps to complete your application:

  • View a list of eligible banks
  • Apply for a small business loan at an eligible bank and establish an interest rate, or apply the EcoLink reduction to an existing loan at an eligible bank
  • Complete an easy EcoLink application with your bank. Paper applications are also available by contacting 1-800-228-1102, option #3
  • Submit either purchase receipts or a firm quote or contract from the contractor detailing improvements to be performed with the EcoLink application
  • If approved, the Ohio Treasury places an investment with your bank at a below market-value interest rate
  • The banks agrees to pass along interest savings to your through a reduction of up to 3% on your small business loan

 


How does EcoLink work?
EcoLink, the Ohio Treasury's newest linked deposit program, encourages small businesses to make energy-efficient upgrades by offering an interest rate reduction on qualifying commercial loans. The program functions within the existing Ohio Treasury linked deposit model.

The Treasury places an investment at the eligible public depository where the small business has taken out a loan. The Treasury agrees to take a lower rate of return on the investment and the financial institution agrees to pass along their savings to their borrower in the form of an interest rate reduction.

In order to participate, the lending institution must be a state depository bank. If you would like to participate but are not yest a depository bank, please click here to learn how.

The lending institution will use its usual lending standards and guidelines to determine the credit-worthiness of the potential borrower. The term and size of the loan is solely decided on by the lender. The Treasury can provide the rate reduction on the first four years of the loan, up to $50,000. The rate reduction cannot be renewed.

After a prompt review of the completed EcoLink application and accompanying necessary documentation of energy-efficient upgrages to be completed or implemented, the Treasurer's office will notify the lenders of approvals or denials of the EcoLink application. If a business is using a contractor, a firm quote or contract from the contractor detailing improvements to be performed should be included. Borrowers may use a contractor of their choice, contingent on the lender's approval. Borrowers may also install their upgrades with proper documentation, such as receipts.


What can EcoLink finance?

  • At least 50% of the loan proceeds must be dedicated to the installation of qualifying energy- efficient upgrades; the other 50% of the loan can be used for other business expenses.
  • If EcoLink is being used on a building, the loan proceeds can only be used on already existing structures. New builds are excluded from the program. The financing can be used for the facility where the business is already located or the purchase of another building or store front, as long as energy-efficient renovations are going to be completed.
  • Eligible energy-efficient upgrades span a wide array of products and renovations including but not limited to: energy-efficient lighting & system contrls, heating & cooling systems, renewable energy systems, weatherization projects, as well as energy-efficient appliances, equipment, and vehicles. Please contact the Treasurer's office to find out more about eligible energy-efficient upgrades at (800) 228-1102.

 


Is my client's business qualified to participate in EcoLink?
Qualifying small business owners:

  • MUST have headquarters in Ohio
  • MUST have less than 150 employees
  • MUST have a majority of employees be Ohio residents
  • MUST be organized for profit
  • MUST maintain offices and operating facilities in Ohio
  • MUST use at least 50% of the loan proceeds for qualifying energy-efficient upgrades; the other 50% of the loan can be used for other business expenses
  • MUST be able to save or create jobs in Ohio

 


What are the terms of the qualifying loan?

  • The term and size of the loan are decided by the lending institution and the borrower. The Ohio Treasury will fund up to a 3% interest rate reduction on the first five to seven years of the loan, up to $50,000. The length and amount of the loan can be greater.
  • The loan must be a fixed-rate loan, meaning a non-changing rate for the period of the Ohio Treasury's deposit. If your borrower's interest rate is variable, the bank would need to fix the rate for the four years they participate in EcoLink. After that time, the variable rate can be restored.
  • The Treasury cannot fund a loan in the names of co-borrowers, defined as listing two distinct businesses in the name of one loan. Co-signers are permitted. Holding companies may be listed as gurantors on the loan, as can additional business owners.

 


Can a small business owner quailify for another Ohio Treasury linked deposit program?
Yes, in some circumstances, a small business owner can be eligible to apply for another linked deposit program. However, the programs will not run concurrently, meaning the interest rate reductions cannot be combined. The Economic Development Department encourages small businesses to apply for any linked deposit program -- EcoLink and GrowNow -- for which the business may be eilgible.


Who can install energy-efficient upgrades?
If installation is necessary to implement your energy-efficient upgrades, upgrades can be installed in a number of ways, contingent on the lender's approval.

Self-Installation: A borrower may install their own upgrades with proper documentation. For self- installations, the Ohio Treasury requires copies of all receipts pertaining to the project. When applying to the EcoLink program, all receipts will need to be turned in with the completed application.

General Contractors: The Ohio Treasury does not recommend or require specific general contractors be used to participate in EcoLink. Contingent on the lender's approval, the small business owner can select any contractor to perform the installation, retrofit, or facility rehabilitation.

Performance Contractors: Performance contractors may also be used by small businesses, contingent on the lender's approval. Energy performance contracts guarantee a certain amount of savings on the cost of energy and water expenses that will help offset some of the costs of facility and infrastructure renewal projects. With the help of performance contractors, you can reduce your facility's operating costs and improve the condition and value of your building and production assets. Many of these companies offer services that improve building systems and equipment efficiencies and reduce operational costs, while ensuring environmental quality and occupant comfort is maintained.