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~Workshop provides discussion forum for those interested in brownfields information~

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Nearly 70 public officials, consultants, land owners and developers participated in the DEP Northeast District’s Brownfields Workshop.

JACKSONVILLE- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Northeast District hosted the Northeast Florida Brownfields workshop at the Adam W. Herbert University Center at the University of North Florida on Friday, July 12. The free workshop - attended by approximately 70 people - aimed to inform stakeholders and interested community members of the economic, legal and practical benefits of brownfield redevelopment.   

Local leaders with practical experience in cleaning up and redeveloping these sites also presented on several more in-depth elements of brownfield redevelopment, including the Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Incentive Program, brownfield-area designation procedure and regional planning. A brownfield site is a property where expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of environmental pollution.

The Department’s Brownfields Program Manager, Kim Walker, also partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mary Beth Van Pelt to give a “Brownfields 101” presentation. Attendees had the opportunity to engage in discussions with fellow attendees as well as industry experts through panel discussions.

"The Department, along with the EPA and Florida Brownfields Association had an opportunity to share success stories, grant opportunities, a legislative update and incentive program details in order to promote re-development of actual or perceived contamination," said Northeast District Assistant Director Jim Maher. "This facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, increases local tax bases and removes development pressures on open land, all while providing greater protections for Florida’s natural resources."

The Florida Brownfields Program facilitates redevelopment and job creation by empowering communities, local governments and other stakeholders to work together to assess, clean up and reuse sites that have been previously impacted by pollutants. The program focuses on the cleanup of contaminated sites and economic redevelopment associated with brownfield sites. To make the program's incentives available to a community, a local government must designate a brownfield area by resolution. Local governments have designated 342 current brownfield areas statewide that equal nearly 235,000 acres.

This program utilizes economic and regulatory incentives to encourage the use of private revenue to restore and redevelop sites, create new jobs and boost the local economy. The Department is also responsible for awarding tax credits to encourage participants to conduct voluntary cleanup of brownfield sites. In 2013, the Department approved more than $5.44 million in Voluntary Cleanup Tax Credits for site rehabilitation work completed in designated brownfield areas in 2012.

Since its inception in 1997, the program has helped clean up 64 contaminated sites, confirmed and projected more than 50,000 direct and indirect jobs and made roughly $2.7 billion in capital investment for designated brownfield areas, according to data in the soon to be released Florida Brownfields Redevelopment Program 2012-2013 Annual Report.