One Green Entrepreneurs Discouraging Tale

Jim Piazzo was looking forward to becoming a green entrepreneur with the help of San Jose. While he still might become a green entrepreneur it probably won’t be with much help from the city reports The Mercury News.

Here’s Piazzo’s story: Young tree surgeon tires of paying big dumping fees for tree limbs. He sees a business opportunity in a wood-chipping operation. He leases land in North San Jose and gets what he thinks is a promise of $330,000 from the city plus a verbal OK for $220,000 more to create green jobs. Then he’s stymied by permit fees, competitors and an arbitrary city decision to cut his grant to $75,000.

Here’s the city’s story: Young tree surgeon comes to us for help in opening a green business, which San Jose is eager to promote. We agree to a maximum $330,000 federally funded loan, which can be forgiven. He was warned the loan was never guaranteed. We try to help him through the process, but he becomes irritated at the cost of permits. Eventually, we find a more pressing need for the money but reserve $75,000 for him.

The notion was to take in tree limbs from pruners, run them through a grinder, and produce wood chips used for energy by PG&E or other energy providers. The concept was doubly environmental because it employed solar energy and a water filtration system at a site on Kings Row, not far from the county buildings on Berger Drive.

“I want to be the greenest company from here to New York City,” says Piazzo, who says he wants to employ 30 to 40 people at his site. “I never expected to get into the business to fight World War III. I thought, gee, the backbone of America is small business.”

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

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