The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection this week is launching a $1 million program to help small businesses improve energy efficiency and develop pollution-prevention projects.

The Small Business Advantage Grant Program will provide a 50 percent matching grant of up to $7,500 to small businesses that purchase new equipment or implement new processes aimed at reducing energy consumption and increasing profitability.

"More and more, companies are realizing that environmentally conscious decisions about energy consumption are smart business decisions," Julien Gaudion, DEP Small Business Ombudsman, said in a statement.

By cutting energy usage, small businesses can reduce expenses and boost their competitive position in the market, Gaudion said

The grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis and are available to any Pennsylvania-based small business with 100 employees or less. Applications are available at www.depweb.state.pa.us. The deadline to apply is Sept. 28.

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