IIRA Awarded Brownfield Revitalization Funding to Educate and Assist Rural Communities
January 21, 2014
MACOMB, IL — Brownfield sites—abandoned factories or other commercial operations that formerly produced pollution or contaminants—impact nearly all Illinois communities. According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, although it's difficult to determine the exact number of brownfield sites in the state, it's believed they exist in almost all Illinois communities—from the smallest towns to the largest cities.
The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University has recently begun work, in association with the TAB (Technical Assistance to Brownfields) Program located at Kansas State University, to educate and assist communities regarding the potential for brownfield land reuse and revitalization. Funding for the project is provided through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
According to IIRA Program Manager Fred Iutzi, brownfield sites can also include smaller sites no longer in operation, such as former gas stations or dry-cleaning establishments.
"Community leaders are recognizing that brownfield redevelopment can produce numerous benefits, including improved public health and environmental conditions, economic growth and increased local employment opportunities, revitalized neighborhoods and increased local tax revenues," Iutzi explained. "For more than a decade, the IIRA has been offering brownfield knowledge to communities through conference training sessions, surveys, research and analysis, as well as through numerous publications and presentations in various state and national outlets. Through these ongoing efforts, IIRA staff has acquired significant knowledge of brownfields remediation and redevelopment."
Iutzi added the IIRA is recognized as a center of excellence for community and economic development in Illinois and in the region.
"IIRA has a long history of providing data-related services to the general public, local and state government, businesses, researchers and development groups. High quality technical assistance to communities is a keystone component of the IIRA's efforts, and these competency areas align well with the technical assistance needs of brownfield communities," he said.
Assistance with identifying and implementing economic development best practices as they relate to brownfields redevelopment will be available primarily to the state of Illinois, although limited services may also be available to communities in surrounding states on a case-by-case basis, Iutzi noted.
Available information and services will include community development finance, grant writing, project development, entrepreneurship, cooperative development, community planning and visioning and sustainable development.
In addition, the IIRA will collaborate with Kansas State University in organizing and delivering TAB workshops via webinar and will also develop and maintain an Illinois TAB web page at www.iira.org, which will provide listings of upcoming workshops and webinars, as well as instructions and contact information for accessing TAB services through the IIRA.
Learn more about brownfield sites at www.ksutab.org or contact Iutzi at (309) 298-1453 or toll free at (800) 526-9943.