MEDB workshop, “REAP-ing What You Sow,” plants seeds for local businesses

Aug 4, 2016

MEDB’s Innovation Series helps build foundations for business success
On July 27th, Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) workshop, “Rural Energy for America Program: REAP-ing What You Sow,” drew a packed audience at the MEDB Malcolm Center in Kihei. Led by presenters, John Antonio, State Energy Coordinator and Denise Oda, Business Programs Director for USDA Rural Development, attendees received valuable information about the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
Under this state program; farmers, ranchers, or small business owners interested in saving money on their energy bills or implementing energy efficient and renewable energy improvements; may be eligible to receive guaranteed loans, grants, or a combination loan and grant for qualified projects.
For businesses interested in being considered for the REAP program, the application deadline for the 2016 funding period is October 31, 2016. However, don’t wait till the last minute to apply, urged USDA officials.

Those who are eligible to apply are:

  • Agricultural producers: individuals or entities that receive 50 percent or more of their income from production of agricultural products. May be rural or urban.
  • Rural small businesses: For-profit small businesses as defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Must be located in a rural area (less than 50,000 population).

Eligible projects are:

  • Energy efficiency: lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, fans, automated controls and insulation.
  • Renewable energy: solar, wind, small hydroelectric, anaerobic digesters, biomass, geothermal and wave/ocean power.

Eligible project costs are:

  • Equipment – purchase and installation, new or reburbished
  • Post-application construction and facility improvements
  • Retrofitting
  • Professional service fees
  • Permits and license fees
  • Working capital, land acquisition (guarantee loan only with restrictions)

REAP grant assistance covers up to 25% of eligible project costs. For renewable energy systems, minimum grant request is $2,500 (for total eligible project costs more than $10,000); and a maximum of $500,000 (for total eligible project costs more than $2 million).  For energy efficiency improvements, minimum grant request is $1,500 (for total eligible project costs more than $10,000); and a maximum of $250,000 (for total eligible project costs more than $1 million).
For REAP guaranteed loan assistance, minimum loan amount is $5,000 (for eligible project costs over $6,667) and a maximum of $25 million (for total eligible project costs over $33.4 million). REAP loan and grant combinations are also available.
“My company specializes in energy efficiency projects and we’re always looking for financing opportunities for our clients,” said Glenn Yamasaki, President of No Ka Oi Energy, LLC. “The information I learned today will definitely be helpful as I was not aware of the grants offered by the USDA REAP program.”
“I’m here to see if there might be funding opportunities for our agrihood project, Hoku Nui Maui in Piiholo,” said Gregory Raab. “This farm-residential community, which includes affordable housing, is all off-grid and we’re looking into developing photo voltaic and other alternative energy sources.”

Other attendees were encouraged to look into ways they could improve energy use for their own business and/or their clients’ businesses. The REAP workshop also motivated them to look into other federal and state grant programs.
“It is critically important that Maui businesses be aware and take advantage of Federal, State and County cost saving programs that are available to them,” said Gerry Smith, Director of Business Development at MEDB. “We’re always looking for ways to assist businesses and a great way to do that is by bringing in the people who run those programs to share that knowledge with our local community.”
For more information on the REAP program, contact:
John Antonio at USDA Rural Development at email, visit the Maui County Business Resource Center at the Maui Mall in Kahului, or the Small Business Development Center at
The REAP workshop was part of MEDB’s Innovation Series, a grassroots effort to help small businesses establish strong systems, processes, tools, and best practices to build a solid foundation for success.
Event sponsors were the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development.
For information on future MEDB business assistance workshop, email