Environmental Law

Brownfields Can Mean Green

It’s an election season once again and jobs are in the forefront. There are real opportunities in those Brownfields to create jobs, particularly in areas which are disadvantaged. For example, “the Missouri Brownfields program awards various tax credits to businesses that remediate properties and create a specified number of jobs. In 2006 a study was performed to determine the investment value of 50 redeveloped sites. The study concluded that the total investment on the property was $2.2 billion. Approximately, 11,053 full-time jobs were created. Nearly 160 thousand tons of contaminated materials were removed, and 686 acres were successfully developed. Equally important, twenty-three historical buildings were returned to use.” Schmittgens, Eugene P. (2014) The Politics of Environmental Regulations: What Happened to Market Based Regulations? (Master’s Thesis) pp. 38-39. (I guess it’s OK to cite my own research)

In addition to private investment, EPA and DNR also invest into Brownfields. Recently, the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program announced its 2016 recipients of grants designed to “recruit, train, and place unemployed and severely under-employed individuals from these impacted communities in long-term environmental careers.” The impact of this Program, according to EPA is “[s]ince the inception of the EWDJT grant program in 1998, more than 256 grants have been awarded exceeding $54 million. Approximately 14,700 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 10,600 individuals have been placed in full-time employment with an average starting hourly wage of $14.34. This equates to a cumulative job placement rate of nearly 72 percent of graduates.

DNR also makes grants available to city, county, quasi-governmental or non-profit organizations to allow them to undertake assessments of properties that have some environmental concerns. Experience indicates that the more one knows about a property, the easier it is to market it to potential developers. These reports will, to a small extent, let a potential developer know what issues may confront them at the site. The best thing is that these reports are funded by the State (at least as long as their grant money holds out). So, if you are a city, county, quasi-governmental or non-profit organizations, you can use this application for this as well.

A conglomeration of groups has hosted a Brownfields’ Marketplace where interested cities, counties, quasi-governmental or non-profit organizations are paired with interested developers to pitch properties; a “speed dating” concept. Evans & Dixon has teamed with St. Louis University to re-introduce this concept to the area. That process has started and the opportunity for a city, county, quasi-governmental or non-profit organizations, in both Missouri and Illinois, to prepare properties for the speed dating event in November of this year.

One of the lessons learned from the previous Marketplaces is that smaller organizations don’t have the expertise to know how to market abandoned properties. Therefore, a training program was held earlier in the month to provide information to interested organizations to go over the Brownfields’ process, what assistance is available, basics in Urban Planning and what a developer is looking for in a property. We hope to use the next several months to work with any city, county, quasi-governmental or non-profit organizations to try to help them put together their property package to present to developers.

Interested entities are still able to get assistance. All you need to do is contact Professor Sarah Coffin at St. Louis University (coffinsl@slu.edu). We hope that there will be more than a few “matches” made at our speed dating event in November. We also hope this will be the first of what will be a regular event.

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