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SBA officials promote green energy, manufacturing in visit to Detroit company

Myesha Johnson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Two officials with the Small Business Administration stopped Thursday at a Black-owned green energy company in Detroit to promote the Biden administration's efforts to boost manufacturing and fight climate change.

Dunamis Clean Energy Partners LLC, which plans to start producing electric vehicle charging stations this year, "really represents building in America and buying American goods ... which will help with economic recovery, investing in America, and really strengthening our economy, which is poised for a very strong, rosy future," Geri Aglipay, SBA Great Lakes regional administrator, said while visiting the east-side business.

Natalie King, owner of Dunamis Clean Energy Partners, is flanked by Small Business Administration officials Geri Aglipay, left, and Jennifer Kim at the company's electric charger production facility in Detroit on Thursday, July 7, 2022.

She was accompanied by Jennifer Kim, the agency's associate administrator for field operations, who touted the $1 trillion infrastructure package passed last fall and signed by President Joe Biden. "Under the bipartisan infrastructure law, there is a lot of of opportunity in Michigan, whether it's helping infrastructure projects at the airport or other places, where small businesses have the opportunity to grow and expand their revenue," Kim said.

"Dunamis is such a great example of taking all of those things that are so important to the country right now: rebuilding, creating jobs, produce clean energy, and impact locally communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change," she said.

Natalie King, who started Dunamis as an energy efficiency firm in 2012, said federal aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a Economic Injury Disaster Loan, was a lifeline for her business.

"The SBA's assistance for us and support for our EIDL and our PPE funding during the pandemic really carried us through and allowed us to sustain our operations from our existing business to really be able to invest in Dunamis charge," King said. 

To prepare for charging station production, King leased a 32,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in an industrial park next to the former Packard plant on the city's east side. She said the company plans a "soft launch" of production in August, followed by the start of full production in October, with the creation of 50 jobs this year, more than 100 by the end of 2023, and nearly 200 by 2025.

"We're really excited about what's to come, the holistic model of building electric vehicle charging stations and including underserved, underrepresented communities, communities of color, low-income communities, those who have unemployment, underemployment ... we want to be the solution to that," King said. 

The Biden administration plans to send nearly $5 billion to states, including $110 million in Michigan, over five years to build up EV charging networks

"Natalie and what she's doing is a great model for all of things that I think are priorities, whether it's: green energy, strengthening supply chains within the United States, and building America by Americans," Kim said.