BDC Board Chairman Announces $600,000 USEPA Coalition Grant Award to Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson counties
and two clean-up grant awards ($158,500) in Weirton
The Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle (BDC) has received a highly competitive 2016 US Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Coalition Assessment Grant. The award will benefit Brooke and Hancock counties in West Virginia and Jefferson County in Ohio and specifically benefit sites in Newell, New Cumberland, Weirton, Wellsburg, Toronto, Steubenville, and Mingo Junction.
The grant of $600,000, the maximum award allowed, will assist in the environmental assessment and eventual repurposing of potentially contaminated properties within the coalition area.
“This U.S. EPA grant is critically important in removing barriers to repurposing and job growth in a region that is already strong on economic development fundamentals, such as industry diversification, transportation, and a trained labor force,” said BDC Board Chair William D’Alesio. “Eradicating contaminants on Brownfield sites will increase the fiscal stability of our communities by allowing vacant properties to again contribute to the tax base. It will also help improve the health of residents by cleaning up our environment. This effort demonstrates the strength our three counties and two states can have when we work together toward a common goal—jobs.”
“We are extremely pleased our coalition was the recipient of this major $600,000 USEPA award to be used for our environmental assessments,” said Board Chair Deborah Venci of the Jefferson County Port Authority (Port Authority). “Repurposing our underutilized land assets is a top priority of our coalition. Not only are these sites eventually remediated and redeveloped for the creation of jobs, but environmental justice is served by eliminating detrimental health effects for our communities and their residents.”
The BDC and Port Authority have identified at least 6 vacant, abandoned, or underused sites in six communities. The EPA grant will help fund an environmental assessment of these sites, focusing on contamination stemming from petroleum and other hazardous materials. The funding is distributed through the EPA Brownfields Program, which cleans up and reinvests in sites that are contaminated—or perceived to be so—and have limited redevelopment potential because of potential liability.
The BDC also received two USEPA Clean-up Grants for the former Jimmy Carey Stadium ($52,500) and The Lodge at the Williams ($106,000). BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford is hopeful these cleanup grants will kick start the repurposing of the former Jimmy Carey Stadium and the historic community landmark The Lodge at the Williams Golf and Country Club.
“Our assessment projects have lead to major clean-ups, repurposing, and job creation at sites such as: Rock Springs Business Park (Chester), Chrysler Dealership (Newell), Three Springs Business Park (Weirton), and the Beech Bottom Industrial Park (Beech Bottom). Strategically-based attention, with the use of these grants, make it possible to assess, remediate, repurpose, attract investment, and create jobs for our community,” said Ford.
Ford added that these grants, totaling $758,500, would not have been possible without the support, draft writing, and data gathering assistance of our partners; including U.S. Congressman David McKinley, R-WV, the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Planning Commission, the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center, the Jefferson County Port Authority, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, the Benedum Foundation, the board and staff of the BDC, and many other community organizations and volunteers.
About the BDC
Formed in 1993 and chartered as a 501-C3 (private, not for profit) organization, the BDC is the designated economic development organization for Brooke and Hancock counties. The BDC is dedicated to creating jobs and encouraging private investment in the northern panhandle. The BDC gets its support from the WV Development Office, WV Economic Development Authority, USEDA, USEPA, Benedum Foundation, private investors, Brooke and Hancock Counties, and the cities of Weirton, Beech Bottom, Bethany, Weirton, New Cumberland, and Chester.