EPA tutorials continue

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Members of the city’s planning and development department got more education on brownfield management Wednesday morning.

Progress on Selma’s brownfields was reported, and a workshop on how to write competitive grants and the benefits of awards was held at the St. James Hotel.

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Wednesday’s grant writing workshop is the second part of the 2008 EPA Brownfields Program workshop series, which define what brownfields are, the potential resources to revitalize them, how to successfully apply for grants to fund projects and once funding is secured, how to get those projects off the ground.

“Today we’ve sponsored a grant writing workshop for the city of Selma and surrounding communities, so they could learn how to apply for grants for the Brownfields projects,” workshop speaker Camilla Warren said. “We came in February to get things started, and we will be back in June to continue.”

The previous workshop, held Feb. 13, covered locating resources for Selma’s potential brownfield projects.

Warren explained applicant eligibility, threshold criteria, and ranking criteria in her explanation of the program. She is Region Four Brownfield Project Manager for the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Based in Atlanta, the region covers Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and North and South Carolina.

Bill Morrison, director of economic development, explained how to leverage tax incentives for greater success with brownfield projects.

Those incentives allow companies to deduct the full cost of an environmental cleanup in the year it is incurred, and possibly receive a tax abatement for up to 20 years.

“Those are significant incentives for the industry to use a brownfield site,” Morrison said, which in turn brings new jobs and new people into the community. “That’s the purpose of the Brownfields projects-to take something valueless to the community and make it into something valuable.”

Larry Norris explained the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s Voluntary Cleanup program in the last segment of the workshop. The program allows for cities, companies, or other entities to be proactive in the revitalization of a brownfield site.

Norris drew parallels between the city of Selma and Montgomery’s Regions Tower, Renaissance Hotel and Spa and Riverwalk Stadium, which he described as a “brownfields success story.”

“What you see here is the potential Selma has,” Norris said.