So what the heck is a brownfield, and why should communities care? Well, a brownfield is much more than where the Cleveland Browns play their home football games! And communities can reap big benefits from brownfield redevelopment projects. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a brownfield site is property in which its redevelopment may be complicated by potential real or perceived environmental hazards, like hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants of some sort. In other words, brownfields are community eyesores that need to be cleaned up. And that cleaning up then can lead to redevelopment, breathing new life into deteriorated areas. As you probably can figure out, new life = new tax base. That’s definitely something communities should care about!
Speaking of reaping benefits, Ayres recently has been part of a brownfield study group that’s been examining brownfield redevelopment in Wisconsin, in particular tracking the money that these efforts have brought in. Details of the report, “The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Wisconsin’s Brownfield Investments,” can be found here. This study concluded that Wisconsin’s $121 million cumulative investment in brownfield redevelopment has generated some $6 billion in direct and indirect investment in completed and in-process brownfield projects. As a bonus, it’s also generated 54,500 direct and indirect jobs. Put simply, for every dollar the state invested in brownfield revitalization, it received a $27 return on its investment (ROI). That is the sort of ROI that certainly would turn heads on Wall Street! Some of that ROI is evidenced in the before-and-after images of Ayres’ brownfields work in the Wisconsin communities of Waunakee and Marinette. Just move the sliders to see the before and after.
What’s important to note is that communities don’t need to do this alone; state and federal funding is available to help with much of the site work. The report talks about how Wisconsin has provided grants totaling $121.5 million to private industry and local governments to assist with brownfield efforts. With local and federal brownfield-specific incentives added in, this grows to $162 million. Ayres has been assisting clients for nearly 20 years with brownfield redevelopment projects and has helped communities across the country secure over $49 million in brownfield redevelopment funding.
If you want to learn more about brownfield redevelopment, Ayres brownfield experts Scott Wilson and Matt Ashby are presenting a webinar on March 15 titled “A Band, A Beer, A Brownfield: Funding Downtown Revitalization” for the organization Downtown Colorado Inc. The webinar will focus on educating communities about how the Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields program can play a key role in crafting a brownfield revitalization and marketing strategy.
For more information about brownfields and redevelopment, check our Environmental Services page.