This is a guest post by Natalie Brown, Program Coordinator at Minnesota Brownfields.
“Minnesota Nice” isn't a pretentious phrase we use to describe ourselves. It’s everyday practice. We say sorry if we brush an elbow against someone on the bus. We chat with strangers while grocery shopping. We work together to offer funding opportunities for brownfield cleanup and redevelopment.
Starting at the state level, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) offers investigation and cleanup funding cycles semi-annually. These funds can be used statewide for Phase I and II Environmental Assessments, developing Response Action Plans, and for soil or groundwater cleanups where there is a proposed development. When reviewing proposals, DEED’s priorities include increases in property taxes and jobs for the proposed development project, the mitigation of threats to human health and the environment by implementing the cleanup plan, and project readiness.
The Metropolitan Council is a governing agency for the 7-county Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and provides funds for investigation and cleanup through their Livable Communities Tax Base Revitalization Account (TBRA). A new priority for Met Council funding is increasing development in Areas of Concentrated Poverty with affordable housing and increasing or retaining permanent, living wage jobs.
The two counties containing Minneapolis and St. Paul, Hennepin and Ramsey, also offer brownfield grants, but the programs differ. Hennepin County funds can be used for both contamination cleanup and investigation, while Ramsey County focuses solely on contamination cleanup. Ramsey County is unique in requesting that 50% of funds be allocated to the suburbs where there is a growing need for market-rate housing. Hennepin County also offers a smaller Brownfield Gap Financing Program with funds specifically for nonprofit developers and organizations on a rolling basis to redevelop contaminated or blighted properties. The non-profit organization Minnesota Brownfields co-administers Hennepin County’s Brownfield Gap Financing Program.
These funders have a collegial relationship, working together to market their grants to projects that will increase jobs and perform significant contamination cleanup. Most grantees are expected to receive funds from more than one of these funding sources per project as the funders work together to assist projects achieve timelines and completion. Applications from each funder are generally the same date, and different funds can be used at different stages in project development.
The success of these brownfield funding programs is evident in the array of redeveloped brownfield sites throughout the metro area and state. In fact, most of these programs are oversubscribed, making this partnership even more critical. Minnesota realizes that brownfield redevelopment is critical to sustainable development and hopes to be an example for successful collaboration.
For a comprehensive list of these funders, click here.