EPA Brownfields Job Training Grant Will Train Workers in Worcester
EPA Workforce Grants Transform Lives and Land Across the Country
WORCESTER, Mass. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the City of Worcester's MassHire Central Region Workforce Board Division for a $199,998 Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant (EWDJT). This is one of 18 grant recipients selected to share $3.3 million to operate environmental job training programs for local citizens across the country.
This grant will be used by City of Worcester to train up to 54 people in important skills needed to work in the environmental remediation field and to assist local economic development. The City is targeting newly naturalized citizens, low-income residents, and veterans in the five urban-core Opportunity Zone census tracts in Worcester. This grant program advances environmental justice by providing an opportunity for residents historically impacted by brownfield sites to gain training and employment as a result of cleanup activities taking place in their communities.
"The professional training provided with this EPA grant will help dozens of Rhode Island trainees to learn high-demand professional skills," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. "EPA's job training grants provide funding for recruitment and training to organizations that are working to create a skilled workforce in communities where EPA brownfields assessment and cleanup activities are taking place. This investment will help prepare people for well-paying jobs in fields that reduce environmental contamination and provide more sustainable futures for the communities most affected by solid and hazardous waste contamination."
"The EPA's Brownfields program is a win-win for Massachusetts, helping to create jobs and spur local economic activity while revitalizing underutilized lands impacted by environmental degradation," said U.S. Senator Ed Markey. "I am pleased that the EPA has selected the City of Worcester as a Brownfields Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant recipient. With this funding, the City and its partners, including the MassHire Central Workforce Board, will train and place dozens of newly naturalized citizens, low-income residents, and veterans in environmental jobs and provide them with crucial skills to make Worcester, our Commonwealth, and our country a safer and healthier place."
"I want to congratulate Worcester, Central MassHire, and their community partners on receiving these important workforce development and job training funds. This grant shows that EPA recognizes and values our region's proven track record in both assessing and cleaning up brownfields," said Congressman Jim McGovern. "This will build on our region's success by ensuring we have a skilled workforce to continue the work and grow an even more sustainable and healthy community. And, it will further boost our economy during this pandemic by providing job opportunities for those who live in areas most blighted by brownfields."
"This is great news," said Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. "The benefits are three-fold: aiding businesses involved in cleaning up blighted sites, helping deserving individuals secure training and gainful employment, and improving our environment. It is a credit to the earnest efforts of our Executive Office of Economic Development and the MassHire Central Region Workforce Board that the City is receiving this first-ever Brownfields Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grant."
"For older, industrial cities like Worcester, building is rebuilding," said City of Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty. "There are few parts of the country that rely on the EPA and Brownfield grants more than New England. We have used these funds to allow for tens of millions of dollars in investment and new projects over the course of my time in office. None of this would have been made possible without our partners in the federal and state government and I want to thank them all for their commitment to a more vibrant City of Worcester."
The City of Worcester's MassHire Central Region Workforce Board Division is a first-time recipient of an EPA Brownfields EWDJT grant. The City of Worcester has extensive experience in EPA's other Brownfields grant work and has previously successfully competed for funding for site assessment, cleanup, and Revolving Loan Fund grants – having received over $6.6M in those funds since 1996.
The Worcester group plans to train 54 students and place at least 88 percent in environmental jobs. The training program includes 90 hours of instruction in 40-hour HAZWOPER, OSHA-10, and Asbestos Supervisor. Students who complete the training program will earn up to three federal certifications. Key partners include the MassHire Central Region Workforce Board, the Institute for Environmental Education, Ascentria Care Alliance, the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission, Worcester Community Action Council, Strategic Environmental Services, Kyle R. Blood General Contracting and Environmental Remediation, and Muchkin Construction.
EPA's Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training program helps put people to work by building a skilled workforce across the country. The program awards competitive grants to cities, nonprofit organizations and other eligible entities to recruit, train and place unemployed and underemployed individuals. Individuals completing the training have often overcome a variety of barriers to employment. Many are from low-income neighborhoods. The training programs also serve dislocated workers who have lost their jobs as a result of manufacturing plant closures, minorities, tribal members, transitioning veterans, ex-offenders and other individuals who may have faced barriers to employment.
Since 1998, when the EWDJT grant program started, more than 335 grants have been awarded. Over 18,500 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 13,700 individuals have been placed in full-time employment earning an average starting wage of over $14 an hour. Rather than filling local jobs with contractors from distant cities, EPA created its environmental job training program to offer residents of communities historically affected by environmental pollution, economic disinvestment, and brownfields an opportunity to gain the skills and certifications needed to secure local environmental work in their communities.
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 an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in America. When brownfields are addressed, nearby property values within a one-mile radius can increase 5 to 15.2 percent according to an independent study.
- More information on EPA's various types of Brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/environmental-workforce-development-and-job-training-ewdjt-grants
- EPA's work on brownfields in New England: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-and-land-revitalization-connecticut-maine-massachusetts-new-hampshire-rhode