Friday, April 10, 2015

EDITORIAL >> PACE helps small firms

Local businesses have a friend in Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde.

Hyde is seeking support of area mayors and the quorum court for an initiative to help businesses finance upgrades in their electrical and water systems, which will save companies money and improve the environment.

The property-assessed clean-energy program, or PACE, is quickly becoming popular across the country. Low-cost loans from the county will help businesses install LED lights, solar panels and other energy-efficient equipment that will recoup their investment almost immediately by saving money on electric bills.

“This ordinance is a job creator. Pulaski County is leading the way with smart options for developers and property owners by creating the state’s largest PACE district,” Hyde told us recently.

That’s welcome news for small businesses that, together, provide most of the jobs in the country but are not so fortunate as to receive the major tax breaks like big corporations that have armies of lawyers and lobbyists arranging special subsidies and tax incentives.

To promote the initiative, Hyde will speak to the Sherwood Rotary Club at 7 a.m. Wednesday in St. Vincent North’s administrative conference room, 2215 Wildwood Ave.

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Young and Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher have expressed interest in Hyde’s plan.

Entergy recently offered a similar program, but it has now ended.

Hyde, a Democrat from North Little Rock, this year succeeded County Judge Buddy Villines, who retired after 22 years in office. Hyde was a state representative but lost a Senate bid to Jane English, a Republican.

He seems to have landed on his feet, though, with a position that allows him to put his engineering skills to work. He’s the owner of HydeCo, a construction firm that has changed the face of central Arkansas. It built the new gym at North Little Rock High School, North Little Rock Electric’s new headquarters, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Pulaski Technical College’s aviation school, Party City in North Little Rock, converted the Junction Bridge in downtown Little Rock into a pedestrian walkway and more.

Hyde knows that modern electrical systems are key to maintaining property values and will help companies stay competitive.

He was also in the Air Force and is a strong supporter of Little Rock Air Force Base.

We hope he’ll help direct the quorum court’s attention north of the river, which county officials have often overlooked in favor of major projects in Little Rock.

The PACE program is a good start as businesses throughout the county can participate.