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EPA Announces the Selection of 2 communities to Receive $600,000 in Funding for Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup Grants to Address Contaminated Properties in the Rockford, Ill. Area

06/05/2019
Contact Information: 
Joshua Singer (singer.joshua@epa.gov)
312-353-5069

For Immediate Release: No. 19-OPA040

Rockford, Ill. – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that 149 communities across America including Rockford and South Beloit in Illinois have been selected to receive funding for brownfield site revitalization to help local governments redevelop vacant and unused properties, transforming communities and local economies. Rockford has been selected to receive a $300,000 Brownfield grant and South Beloit a $300,000 Brownfield grant. 

“These grants fulfill several of President Trump’s top priorities simultaneously: helping communities in need transform contaminated sites into community assets that not only create jobs and jumpstart economic development but also improve public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are targeting these funds to areas that need them the most. Approximately 40 percent of the selected recipients are receiving Brownfields grants for the first time, which means we are reaching areas that may previously been neglected, and 108 of the selected communities have identified sites or targeted areas that fall within Opportunity Zones.”

“Many communities are ready to move forward with redevelopment, they just lack the funding to get started,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp. “Our Brownfields grants can jump-start the process and provide much-needed support to begin the assessment and cleanup process.”  

The projects selected for funding include:

  • City of Rockford – to promote redevelopment in Southwest Side neighborhoods. The city will investigate the environmental conditions in some of the oldest industrial areas. This grant will mark the sixteenth time since 2000 that EPA has awarded funds to Rockford for environmental assessments and cleanups.  Previous projects included the cleanup of the former TAPCO site, which lead to the investment of nearly $1 million in private investment.
     
  • City of South Beloit – properties near the confluence of Turtle Creek and the Rock River will be investigated to determine if environmental contamination exists and if any cleanup is needed before the area can be redeveloped. South Beloit previously received EPA Brownfield Cleanup grant, which was used to manage environmental contamination at the former Primecast site on

 “The City of Rockford is very excited for the Brownfield Community Wide Assessment Grant award and the ability to extend our long-term partnership with the United States Environmental Protection Agency in assessing and redeveloping Brownfield properties in our community.  Brownfield grant funds have been an early economic catalyst in Rockford for valuable redevelopment projects, including the UW Health Sports Factory, the downtown Embassy Suites hotel, and the Rock Valley College Advanced Technology Education Center at the former Barber-Colman manufacturing complex.  We will continue to utilize these grant funds in a manner most effective to reduce blight and turn Brownfield properties into community assets,” Mayor Thomas McNamara said.

“I cannot begin to express the level of gratitude our humble City of South Beloit feels in being awarded this Brownfield Grant.  We know the power of this award and need to look no further than the impact of our first grant 5 years ago. We restored a large portion of our downtown, maintained one hundred jobs, and created green space out of a toxic dumping ground. South Beloit is a promise well-kept to the EPA and we are intent on continuing our efforts to leave this city cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous than when we found it,” said South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl.

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 that 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 that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.

One hundred and eight communities selected for grants this year have identified sites or targeted areas in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.

“I am truly excited to join as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announces over $64 million in Brownfield funding,” said Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. “The Brownfields grant program is a tremendous vehicle for bringing real revitalization and transformation to the distressed communities of America. As the Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council I am pleased that EPA continues to support the Council and the President’s work in this area. In fact, of the 149 communities selected for these grants, 108 will benefit communities with Opportunity Zones. I look forward to seeing the impact that these grants will have on neighborhoods and citizens across the country.” 

Background
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. As of May 2019, 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 leverage 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.

In 2018 Congress reauthorized the statutory authority for the Brownfields Program. The reauthorization included changes to the program to expand the list of entities eligible for Brownfields grants, increase the limit of individual Brownfields cleanup grants to $500,000, and add grant authority for Multipurpose grants. These important changes will help communities address and cleanup more complex brownfield sites.

The 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on December 11-13 in Los Angeles, California. 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.

List of the FY 2019 Applicants Selected for Funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy19-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants.

For more on the Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding.

For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields.

More on the 2019 Brownfields Conference: https://www.brownfields2019.org.

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