EPA Presents Coalfield Development Corporation $200K in Brownfields Job Training Grants to Build a Skilled Environmental Workforce
PHILADELPHIA (March 17, 2022) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz presented the Coalfield Development Corporation of Wayne, West Virginia, a $199,790 grant today for environmental job training. Ortiz made the presentation at the Black Diamond property in the Westmoreland section of Huntington, West Virginia.
“Job training and workforce development are an important part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to build a better America by advancing economic opportunities and addressing environmental justice issues in underserved communities,” Ortiz said. “EPA’s Brownfields Job Training program provides funding for curriculum development to train local unemployed and under-employed people. These Brownfields job training opportunities enable companies like Coalfield to take advantage of the jobs created by the assessment and cleanup of Brownfield sites in their own communities, by filling local environmental jobs with local people.”
Individuals completing a job training program funded by EPA often overcome a variety of barriers to employment. Many of these individuals are from historically under-served neighborhoods and reside in the areas affected by environmental justice issues. Rather than filling local jobs with contractors from distant cities, these organizations provide training and 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. Individuals typically graduate with a variety of certifications that improve their marketability and help ensure that employment opportunities are not just temporary contractual work, but long-term careers.
Ortiz made the presentation before touring the Black Diamond Property in the Westmoreland section of Huntington. Coalfield acquired Black Diamond in 2019. After community outreach and a grant application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Coalfield received cleanup funding through the EPA Brownfields Program. This grant will help Coalfield pay for a Licensed Remediation Specialist to plan and carry out the environmental clean-up onsite, all with the approval of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
Earlier in the day, Ortiz toured the former American Car and Foundry Company (ACF) Industries property in the city’s Highlawn neighborhood. The City of Huntington, through its partner the Huntington Municipal Development Authority, purchased the 47-acre former ACF manufacturing site and has focused its efforts during the past year on preparing the site and upgrading its infrastructure to welcome new, technology-focused businesses and light manufacturers at the new Huntington Brownfields Innovation Zone (H-Biz) Foundry Center.
H-Biz will launch first with Marshall University’s Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) who will repurpose the historic machine shop to become the RCBI Welding & Robotics Technology Training Center. The training center will empower manufacturers and makers, moving innovative ideas from concept to market with leading-edge equipment to boost performance and skills training. The historic machine shop renovation will provide a 5,000-square-foot welding training center and a 5,000-square-foot robotic, gas tungsten arc (tungsten inert gas) and alloys welding training center, and also add a 5,000-square-foot addition for a RCBI classroom, front-office functions, and entrepreneurial support and business engagement services.
President Biden’s leadership and bipartisan congressional action have delivered the single-largest investment in national brownfields infrastructure ever. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests more than $1.5 billion through EPA’s brownfields program. Of that investment, $30 million will be invested into future Brownfields Job Training grants.
During the next five years, communities, states and tribes will have the opportunity to apply for larger grants to include and enhance the environmental curriculum in existing job training programs. This investment will help trained individuals access jobs created through brownfields revitalization activities within their communities. EPA anticipates awarding as many as 50 additional grants to job training entities with BIL funding, beginning in fiscal year 2023. Application guidelines will be available in spring/summer 2022.
Since this program began in 1998, the Brownfields Job Training Program has awarded more than 352 grants. More than 19,456 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 14,560 individuals have been placed in full-time employment in careers related to remediation and environmental health and safety. The average starting wage for these individuals is over $14 an hour.
For more information on the selected Brownfields Job Training grant recipients, including past grantees, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy22-brownfields-job-training-grants
For more information on this, and other types of Brownfields grants, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-job-training-jt-grants