Four Montana organizations to receive nearly $10 million to advance environmental cleanups
SMDC, GFDA, Bear Paw Development and HRCD among 265 nationwide to receive Brownfields Cleanup, Assessment and Revolving Loan Fund Grants to help build a better America while advancing environmental justice
Helena, Mont. (May 12, 2022) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing four Montana organizations will receive nearly $10 million to advance environmental cleanups. Under the EPA Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Coalition grant program, Snowy Mountain Development Corporation (SMDC) in Lewistown will receive $3.9 million, Great Falls Development Authority (GFDA) in Great Falls will receive $2.65 million, Bear Paw Development Corporation of Northern Montana (Bear Paw Development) in Havre will receive $2.15 million, and Headwaters Resource Conservation & Development Council (HRCD) in Butte will receive $1 million.
“With this funding, four impactful organizations will advance the progress they’ve already made cleaning up and redeveloping polluted sites across the State of Montana,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “I applaud SMDC, GFDC, Bear Paw Development and HRCD for building upon their momentum and investing in projects so their communities can thrive.”
“When industries change and communities develop, Montana’s towns and cities are often left to foot the bill on cleanup efforts,” said Senator Jon Tester. “My bipartisan infrastructure law will help to change that by reinvesting in the communities that have been most affected by leftover contamination and pollution. By working across the aisle with five Republicans and four other Democrats, we were able to secure critical funding to repurpose old or abandoned properties in the Treasure State and create good paying Montana jobs in the process.”
Utilizing RLF grant funds, SMDC, on behalf of the Central Montana Brownfields Coalition, plans to perform several cleanups throughout a six-county area in Central Montana. Cleanups will help clean up legacy contamination, provide affordable housing and eldercare and stimulate economic development in the towns of Hilger, Winnett, Roundup, Fergus and Lewistown. A priority site will be the Crowley Block in Lewistown, which when completed will provide 14 affordable housing units. SMDC has already leveraged revolving loan funds to clean up asbestos at the Crowley Block with $4.5 million in state, local, and federal resources to bring the One Health Community Health Center into the formerly vacant building. The project will result in the creation of 132 new jobs while addressing two critical housing and rural health care needs. Over the past 10 years, EPA has provided SMDC $3.8 million in funding to complete 23 cleanups throughout Central Montana.
“The six-county area of Central Montana that SMDC serves is rich with the evidence of our past industrial revolution within the state. Vacant and abandoned railyards, gas stations, and former commercial properties add a blighted look to our otherwise beautiful historic downtowns and communities. We are extremely grateful and appreciative of the EPA funds we have received over the last 10 years that have helped our communities begin to address these challenges,” said Cathy Barta, Redevelopment Director of SMDC. “EPA's Brownfields program is SMDC's flagship program. Its economic impact in Central Montana exceeds hundreds of millions of dollars in terms of new and expanding tax base, new and expanding businesses, new jobs (and those we have saved), and new products and services for our community members—all in a cleaner, healthier, safer environment that we are proud to prepare for our next generation.”
GFDA plans to use supplemental funding under the Brownfields RLF program to provide cleanup loans and grants at multiple properties throughout the City of Great Falls and Cascade County. A priority site for the funding is the Baatz Building, a historic vacant downtown building planned for a multiuse development with permanent, affordable supportive housing. Two cleanups currently underway include a $50,000 subgrant to clean up the Great Falls Rescue Mission Women’s Shelter and a $424,000 subgrant for the Rocky Mountain Building. Alluvion Health will clean up and begin a complete restoration and remodel of the Rocky Mountain building for their Health Care Center after 12 years of vacancy. Over the past 16 years, EPA has provided GFDA $2.9 million in funding leading to the completion of seven loans and 12 subgrants for cleanup. A few highlights include the West Bank Landing, True Brew Coffee Shop, Miracle Mile, Arvon Block and the Great Falls Community Food Bank.
“These funds will enable us to continue to help make important redevelopment projects happen that otherwise would not, especially in our target downtown, riverfront and rural target areas,” said Brett Doney, CEO and president of GFDA. “Our EPA Brownfields partnership has proven to be a very effective way to spur investment in long-vacant and underutilized properties. We will put these funds to work to help create much needed housing, essential community services, and entrepreneurial businesses to speed our pandemic economic recovery.”
Bear Paw Development plans to use supplemental funding under the Brownfields RLF program to continue to provide cleanup loans and grants throughout the five counties in their Economic Development District, which represents a large rural area of northern Montana. Upcoming projects include the Bullhook Community Health Center in Havre, where Brownfields RLF funds will assist in cleaning up several properties so that the facility can expand the reach of vital healthcare services, especially to low- and moderate-income families and vulnerable communities. In Chinook, Bear Paw plans to clean up petroleum contamination so that the building owner can open a restaurant and coffee shop. Bear Paw Development’s Brownfields RLF program also plans on assisting a former car dealership and fueling station in Chester to clean up petroleum contamination so that the site can be utilized by a local agricultural grain merchandiser and contribute to the commercial landscape in the rural community. Over the past 11 years, the EPA has provided Bear Paw Development $1.5 million in funding leading to the completion of four loans and eight subgrants for cleanup projects. A few highlights include the Boys and Girls Club of the Hi-Line in Havre, Malta Opportunities in Malta, Kaste’s Building in Big Sandy, and the Chester Vets Club in Chester.
“We are elated that the EPA is again investing in Bear Paw Development’s Brownfields program. These funds will be used throughout our five-county Economic Development District to clean up contaminated properties and put them back into productive use,” said Bear Paw Development Corporation Executive Director Paul Tuss. “This investment will revitalize neighborhoods and communities that otherwise would continue to be impacted by the negative effects of environmental contamination.”
As a new recipient of a Brownfields RLF Coalition grant, HRCD plans to capitalize a revolving loan fund from which the HRCD will provide loans and subgrants to support cleanup activities. HRCD will use funds to oversee site cleanups, plan redevelopment, and conduct community involvement activities. RLF activities will focus on the seven-county region in southwest Montana that includes Anaconda-Deer Lodge, Beaverhead, Butte-Silver Bow, Granite, Jefferson, Madison, and Powell counties. Priority sites are located in old, blighted commercial corridors and include former gas stations, auto repair shops, a former hotel building, and a former junkyard located in a federally designated floodplain. Coalition members are the Butte Local Development Corporation and the Anaconda Local Development Corporation.
“We’re incredibly excited about this important investment from the EPA to support the redevelopment of Brownfields properties in the Headwaters region,” said HRCD Executive Director Joe Willauer. “The Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund for Southwestern Montana is going to provide critical funding for properties that are underutilized and help spur development and investment that will lead to new businesses, new jobs and vibrant economies. We’re thankful for the support from EPA, and proud to continue serving the communities of Southwestern Montana.”
The Brownfields Program advances President Biden’s Justive40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain government programs to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 86 percent of the communities selected to receive funding as part of this announcement have proposed projects in historically underserved areas. EPA’s Brownfields grants and other technical assistance programs like the RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative are also helping to build the clean energy economy.
Today’s announcement includes approximately $180 million from the historic $1.5 billion investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help turn brownfield sites across the nation into hubs of economic growth and job creation, along with more than $75 million from fiscal year 2022 appropriations.
The funding includes:
- $112.8 million for 183 selectees for Assessment Grants, which will provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments, and community outreach.
- $18.2 million for 36 selectees for Cleanup Grants, which will provide funding to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites owned by the recipient.
- $16.3 million for 17 selectees for Revolving Loan Fund grants that will provide funding for recipients to offer loans and subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites.
- $107 million for 39 high-performing Revolving Loan Fund Grant recipients to help communities continue their work to carry out cleanup and redevelopment projects on contaminated brownfield properties. Supplemental funding for Revolving Loan Fund Grants is available to recipients that have depleted their funds and have viable cleanup projects ready for work.
The list of selected applicants is available here: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2022-brownfields-assessment-rlf-cleanup-arc-grants-and-rlf
Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s investments in brownfield sites have leveraged more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example:
- To date, this funding has led to more than 183,000 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment and more than 9,500 properties have been made ready for reuse.
- Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.43 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfield Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
- In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15% as a result of cleanup activities.
- Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.
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. Redevelopment made possible through the program includes everything from grocery stores and affordable housing to health centers, museums, greenways, and solar farms.
The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on August 16-19, 2022 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 (ICMA).