EPA Selects Downriver Community Conference, Oakland County, Macomb County and Jackson County to Receive $1.8 million for Brownfields Assessment

May 6, 2020
Press Release

DETROIT, MI (May 06, 2020) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Wheeler announced EPA’s selection of Downriver Community Conference ($600,000), Jackson County ($300,000), Macomb County ($300,000), and Oakland County ($600,000) for Brownfields grants totaling $1.8 million.

“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 lack the funding to take that next step ,” said EPA Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “EPA’s Brownfields grants help jump-start 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.

“The Brownfields Program is a proven tool for restoring former industrial sites and converting them into economic assets that benefit the community,” said U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-07).  “I am pleased to see the EPA make targeted investments in Michigan that will make a difference for our environment and encourage local job growth. These federal funds could not come at a better time.”

“Downrivers have many valuable natural resources that make it a safe place to live, raise families, and enjoy the outdoors,” said U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12). “The need to clean up left-behind, contaminated Brownfield sites continues to be the goal for Downriver leaders to improve livability. The DCC has an excellent track record of using Brownfield dollars in such a manner and the supplemental funding from EPA enables this good work to continue. The DCC has a strong plan to use these funds. We thank the EPA for recognizing the valuable leadership in Brownfield redevelopment with this supplemental award.”

“The Brownfields Assessment Coalitions Grants will provide important assistance to the work of revitalizing key areas of Macomb and Oakland Counties,” said U.S. Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09). “Every community deserves to thrive free of toxic waste and environmental contamination, and I am glad that Southeast Michigan will soon see the benefits of federal assistance in the cleanup effort.”

“I am pleased to see money going to the Downriver Community Conference to perform environmental assessments at polluted sites across my district and Southeast Michigan,” said U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13). “The first step in holding corporate polluters accountable is understanding the risks they’ve exposed our communities to, so I’m glad that hazardous sites across our region will be evaluated soon.  It’s my desire to see all polluted sites in Michigan – and across the country – remediated and restored to protect our public health and allow our environment to flourish.”

The downriver community conference is honored to receive a $600,000 brownfield assessment grant that will assist many of our members from the downriver community conference brownfield coalition in the coming years,” said Jim Perry, Executive Director, Downriver Community Conference. “The DCC has proven to be an effective organization to implement EPA Brownfield funding. Since 1997, the dcc has received 2,650,000 in EPA assessment grants. We have provided assessment, and due diligence to over 200 sites, and we greatly appreciate the partnership with our EPA over the many years in working to clean up our region, and take blight sites, and make them bright again.”

“The Jackson Brownfield Redevelopment Authority is please that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $300,000 Brownfield Assessment Grant to Jackson County,” said Tim Rogers, President and CEO of the Enterprise Group of Jackson. “Jackson County, working with The Enterprise Group of Jackson and Envirologic, have an outstanding track record working with business to redevelop brownfield properties. We look forward to working with the EPA to create jobs and grow the tax base by bringing new vitality to underutilized sites in Jackson County.”

Macomb County Planning & Economic Development is pleased to accept this award to assist in the redevelopment of idled properties throughout our communities,” said Mark Hackel, Macomb County Executive. “The grant will be used to inventory and prioritize current sites; engage the community in planning activities; conduct site assessment for properties with the greatest potential for transformative change; and assist in the development of site-specific cleanup plans.”

“We are grateful to be selected to receive a $600,000 U.S. EPA site assessment coalition grant to help Oakland County’s brownfield sites become thriving business locations again,” said David Coulter, Oakland County Executive. “This grant comes at a critical time as we look forward to a phased re-opening of the economy during the pandemic. The Oakland County Brownfield Consortium has used our previous grant dollars to help over 350 projects resulting in a proposed overall investment of $1.6 billion dollars and a proposed 6,500 full time jobs.”

More information on the grant recipients:

Downriver Community Conference, Southeastern Michigan 

Assessment Grant 

$600,000 

EPA has selected the Downriver Community Conference for a Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant. Community-wide grant funds will be used to conduct 30 Phase I and 25 Phase II environmental site assessments and up to 15 baseline environmental assessments. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on the 18 communities in Southeast Michigan and Washtenaw County, many of which have Qualified Opportunity Zones. Priority sites include the Ecorse Steel Mill Property, the Lincoln Park Shopping Center, the River Rogue Marion Industrial Property, the Riverview Brine Fields, the Port of Monroe Industrial Properties, and the Trenton/Gibraltar Jefferson Avenue Corridor. Coalition partners are the cities of Allen Park, Dearborn, Ecorse, Gibraltar, Grosse Ile Township, Lincoln Park, Melvindale, Monroe, Riverview, River Rogue, Romulus, Southgate, Taylor, Tecumseh, Trenton, Woodhaven, and Wyandotte, the Port of Monroe, and Washtenaw County. 

Jackson County, MI

Assessment Grant

$300,000

Jackson County will receive a Brownfields Assessment Grant to help Ward 5 of the City of Jackson, which includes two Qualified Opportunity Zones.  

Macomb County, MI

Assessment Grant

$300,000

EPA has selected Macomb County for a Brownfields Assessment Grant. Community-wide grant funds will be used to conduct 17 Phase I and 12 Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop 12 cleanup plans and support community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on three areas throughout the county: the Groesbeck Highway Corridor in the City of Fraser, which includes three Qualified Opportunity Zones; the North Jefferson Avenue Corridor in Harrison Township; and Utica Junction in the City of Roseville. Priority sites include the former St. John’s Hospital, a plastic automotive parts manufacturer, and a former American Legion building. 

Oakland County, MI

Assessment Grant

$600,000

EPA has selected Oakland County for a Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant. Community-wide grant funds will be used to conduct 96 Phase I and 45 Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community involvement activities and prepare a site inventory. Assessment activities will focus on the 8 Mile, John R. Road, and U.S. Highway 24 corridors in the County, which is located in the Detroit-Metropolitan area and contains 15 Qualified Opportunity Zones. Priority sites include a former car dealership, a former petroleum additive research-and-development facility, a former gas station and auto repair building, a municipal-waste incinerator, a low-income housing development, the former Northland Mall, and a 415-acre site containing landfills and other illegal dumping sites. Coalition partners are the Cities of Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Pontiac, and Southfield. 

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