This is a complex question. In terms of raising money by saving energy, or helping the environment, there are a few options that first come to mind, but many others that can be researched as possibilities as well. Most options will initially have start-up costs, but some are less expensive than others.
The least expensive option is to initiate an aluminum can recycling program. Aluminum cans are the most lucrative recycling item, meaning, certain companies will pay you to take the cans off of your hands and the payment depends on weight. If this can be done on a large scale, it can be an effective revenue-building venture.
Another option, which is more expensive at start-up, involves the transformation of your entire small community to alternative energy. You would first choose the renewable source that is most abundant in your area (ex. solar, wind, hydro, geo-thermal) and then retrofit public buildings to utilize these resources. You could also encourage residential and business involvement by using tax incentives on improvements made. The benefits initially would be a reduction/elimination of energy costs for the community. The long-term goal would then be to sell the excess energy generated can to other communities.
These are only a couple of ideas, but there are many others if you are willing to take the long view. If you would like more information, or more research to be done, please feel free to contact me.
Also, check out what other communities have done/are doing:
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