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EPA Selects Arrowhead Regional Development Commission to Receive $600,000 for Brownfields Assessment

05/06/2020
Contact Information: 
Francisco Arcaute (arcaute.francisco@epa.gov)
312-886-7613, 312-898-2042 cell

For Immediate Release No. 20-OPA-047

DULUTH, MN – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Wheeler announced EPA’s selection of Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) for $600,000 in Brownfields grants.

“Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfield Program provide communities and tribes across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Under President Trump’s leadership, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfield grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of over 948 grants.”

“These communities are ready to move forward with redevelopment, they just lacked the funding to take that next step,” said EPA Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “EPA’s Brownfields grants help jumpstart the process by providing support for assessments and cleanups.” 

Nationwide, the agency is announcing the selection of 155 grants for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA brownfields funding through the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities, including neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Of the communities selected this year, 118 can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated in these zones. In addition, nearly 30% of the communities selected today will receive brownfields funding for the first time.

“I am thrilled that communities within Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District will receive funds from this Brownfields Assessment Grant,” said U.S. Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08). “These funds will be used to transform contaminated sites into community assets, helping to create jobs for hardworking Minnesotans and unleashing the economic engine. As we continue to fight the COVID-19 virus, this investment in our local communities is needed now more than ever.”

“Today’s grant announcement will provide the North Shore and the Iron Range with smart investments that will clean up once contaminated sites and transform them into new development opportunities and community assets,” said Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop. “The MPCA continues to support and foster strong partnerships to leverage the resources necessary to accomplish these projects.”

“ARDC and its coalition communities are excited to be awarded EPA brownfields assessment funding,” said Andy Hubley, Director, ARDC Planning. “This funding will help us identify and assess brownfield sites so we can create plans to help revitalize our communities.”

More information on the grant recipient:

Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, Northeast Minnesota 

Assessment Grant, $600,000 

EPA has selected the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission for a Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant. Community-wide grant funds will be used to inventory sites and conduct 20 Phase I and 16 Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to hold 12 public outreach meetings, distribute project fact sheets and press releases, and develop eight cleanup plans. Assessment activities will focus on seven areas in northeastern Minnesota that are residential, commercial, and industrial areas that have been subject to recent economic and planning efforts, some of which include Qualified Opportunity Zones. Priority sites include former coal and iron ore docks on the shores of Lake Superior, a former sawmill, and a former building products manufacturing site. Coalition partners are the Cities of Two Harbors, International Falls, Cloquet, Grand Rapids, and Cohasset, and Aitkin County. 

Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields 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 are 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.

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 United States.  EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding, from both public and private sources, leveraged more than 160,000 jobs.

The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.

List of the FY 2020 applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2020-brownfields-assessment-revolving-loan-fund-and-cleanup-0

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

For more information about EPA’s role in Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones

For information on the studies related to the Brownfields Program’s environmental and economic benefits: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-program-environmental-and-economic-benefits

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