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EPA: $9.3 million in supplemental funds to clean up & reuse brownfield sites in communities across US

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Fri, Jun 21st 2019 07:35 pm

Niagara County selected to receive $400,000

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $9.3 million in supplemental funding for 24 current successful brownfields revolving loan fund (RLF) grantees. The supplemental funds are going to communities that have demonstrated success in using their RLF to clean up and redevelop brownfield sites. The funds will be used to continue progress in reusing vacant and abandoned properties and turning them into community assets such as housing, recreation and open space, health facilities, social services and commerce opportunities.

The Niagara County Brownfield Development Corp. in New York was selected for FY19 RLF supplemental funding.

“This brownfields supplemental funding will provide additional resources to 24 communities with a proven track record of success so they can continue their progress revitalizing their local economy and improving the health and wellbeing of their community,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said. “We are proud to report that a majority of communities receiving these supplemental funds have Opportunity Zones within their jurisdiction, which means we are reaching communities most in need.”

Recipients of EPA’s brownfields RLF funding provide low-interest loans and sub-grants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfields sites. When loans are repaid, the loan amount is returned into the fund and re-lent to other borrowers, providing an ongoing source of capital within a community. To date, EPA’s RLF grantees across the country have completed 694 cleanups and attracted approximately 42,000 jobs and $8 billion in public and private funding.

A majority of the communities receiving supplemental funds have census tracks designated as federal Opportunity Zones within their jurisdiction. An Opportunity Zone is an economically distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S.

Grants awarded by EPA’s brownfield program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes while taking advantage of existing infrastructure.

For example, brownfields grants have been shown to:

•Increase local tax revenue: A study of 48 brownfields sites found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites.

•Increase residential property values: Another study found property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.

As of May, under the EPA brownfields program, 30,153 properties have been assessed and 86,131 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use brownfields grants to attract 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.

The 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference will be held Dec. 11-13 in Los Angeles. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. EPA cosponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

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