(City of Pocatello Press Release, May 24, 2022)
On May 12, 2022, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced $2.25 million dollars of funding that was awarded to revitalize communities in Idaho. This investment will help revitalize and clean up Brownfield sites across Idaho into hubs of economic growth and job creation. Of the $2.25 million dollar award, $500,000 was awarded to the City of Pocatello for a Brownfields Assessment Grant and $1M was awarded to the Southeast Idaho Council of Governments, Inc for a Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund.
According to the EPA website, a “Brownfield” is a property where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S.
Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.
EPA Regional Administrator Michael S. Regan stated, “With this announcement, we’re turning blight into might for communities across America…EPA’s Brownfields Program breathes new life into communities by helping turn contaminated and potentially dangerous sites into productive economic contributors.”
The Assessment Grant Funds awarded to the City of Pocatello will be used to conduct environmental site assessments, prepare reuse plans, conduct community meetings, develop a project webpage, and conduct other outreach activities.
Brent McLane – City of Pocatello Planning and Development Services Director stated, “The City of Pocatello is working hard to provide opportunities to revitalize properties in the heart of the City. There are many properties within the City that are potential Brownfields and this grant will offer possible resources to property owners to help with environmental studies or site planning. I am also excited to engage with the public in creating a vision for some blighted areas within Pocatello.”
The Southeast Idaho Council of Governments, a non-profit member organization of 33 cities and 7 counties in Southeast Idaho, was also awarded a $1M Revolving Loan Fund which will provide loans and subgrants to support cleanup activities throughout the region.
“SICOG is excited to have this opportunity!” noted SICOG Board member and local Realtor Jim Johnston. “With these funds, we are able to help communities, developers, realtors, contractors, and small business owners improve properties with Brownfield issues.”
“We are thrilled to receive this award and to partner with the City of Pocatello in this effort!” noted SICOG Executive Director, David Doran. “These valuable resources offer solutions to help small businesses redevelop blighted space and support vibrant communities!”
Brownfields sites can be anything from railyards, gas stations, dry cleaners, auto service facilities, machine shops, slaughterhouses, historic buildings, or other local industrial or agricultural facilities. These sites are often contaminated or perceived to be contaminated, with hazardous substances making these locations difficult to repurpose or redevelop.
In recent weeks, SICOG was also awarded 1.15 million dollars in funding from the US Department of Agriculture’s Intermediary Relending Program, and 2.25 million dollars in funding from the Economic Development Administration’s – Economic Adjustment Assistance program. With this funding, SICOG provides “companion” loans in partnership with local banks to support small businesses throughout Southeast Idaho.