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

FORT MEYERS The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s South District educated more than 70 people today about the environmental and economic benefits of brownfield redevelopment. 

Local leaders with practical experience in cleaning up and redeveloping sites presented several 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 brownfield symposium brought together the dynamics to bring new development and jobs to the Southwest Florida region," said Jon Iglehart, Director of DEP's South District. "Along with our State and Federal program speakers, real estate brokers and attorneys, property owners and managers shared the latest in making vacant property ready for reuse."

The Department’s Brownfields Program Manager, Kim Walker, kicked off the program with a "Brownfields 101" presentation. Barbara Alfano, representing the US Environmental Protection Agency, followed with a discussion on federal brownfield grants. Other presenters included Heather Squires from Enterprise Florida and representatives from First Capital Realty.

"Florida's Brownfields Program facilitates the successful redevelopment of underutilized areas throughout the state," said Jorge Caspary, Director of the Department's Division of Waste Management. "This program not only makes it possible to mitigate contaminated sites, but also creates jobs and stimulates the economy in the process."

The Florida Brownfields Program empowers 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 of those 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 356 brownfield areas statewide totaling nearly 250,000 acres.

Utilizing economic and regulatory incentives, the Program encourages the use of private revenue to restore and redevelop sites, create new jobs and boost the local economy. The Department awards tax credits to encourage participants to conduct voluntary cleanup of these 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 the inception of the program, 69 contaminated sites have been cleaned up, more than 50,000 confirmed and projected direct and indirect jobs have been created, and $2.4 billion in capital investment has been made within designated brownfield areas.