Big Sky Economic Development News

Big Sky Economic Development Authority receives $500,000 for property assessment, cleanup and redevelopment in East Billings

May 12, 2022

Big Sky Economic Development Authority receives $500,000 for property assessment, cleanup and redevelopment in East Billings

BSED among 265 recipients nationwide to receive Brownfields Cleanup, Assessment and Revolving Loan Fund Grants to help build a better America while advancing environmental justice

U.S. EPA: Richard Mylott, 720-237-8119, mylott.richard@epa.gov

Big Sky Economic Development Authority: Dianne Lehm, 406-869-8409, lehm@bigskyeda.org

Billings, Mont. (May 12, 2022) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the Big Sky Economic Development Authority in Billings, Montana will receive a $500,000 Brownfields assessment grant to complete environmental site assessments and create economic redevelopment opportunities in the East Billings Urban Renewal District.

The Big Sky Economic Development Authority will use the EPA grant funds to conduct 16 environmental site assessments and develop four cleanup plans. Grant funds also will be used to prepare a community involvement plan, conduct public meetings, and conduct other community outreach activities. The target area for this grant is the East Billings Urban Renewal District. Priority sites include eight brownfields in old commercial and industrial areas, including an auto repair shop, a trucking business, steel facilities, and a warehouse.

“EPA is proud to support Big Sky Economic Development Authority as they continue to find opportunities to transform underused and vacant properties in the communities that need them most,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “We look forward to seeing the continued revitalization of the East Billings Urban Renewal District for the benefit of the area’s residents and businesses.”

“When industries change and communities develop, Montana’s towns and cities are often left to foot the bill on cleanup efforts,” said Senator Jon Tester. “My bipartisan infrastructure law will help to change that by reinvesting in the communities that have been most affected by leftover contamination and pollution. By working across the aisle with five Republicans and four other Democrats, we were able to secure critical funding to repurpose old or abandoned properties in the Treasure State and create good paying Montana jobs in the process.”

“The $500,000 in new funds will provide continued opportunities for BSED to partner with private development, assisting with the challenges that come with redevelopment,” said Steve Arveschoug, Executive Director, Big Sky Economic Development. “Billings Montana is Open for Business!”

Today’s Brownfields grant will build on previous EPA support for the Big Sky Economic Development Authority’s efforts, including the completion of environmental assessments on over 40 different parcels. Recent assessment work on a five-acre site in east Billings, which cleared the way for a new project representing $25 million in new private investment.

The Brownfields Program advances President Biden’s Justive40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain government programs to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 86 percent of the communities selected to receive funding as part of this announcement have proposed projects in historically underserved areas. EPA’s Brownfields grants and other technical assistance programs like the RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative are also helping to build the clean energy economy.

Today’s announcement includes approximately $180 million from the historic $1.5 billion investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help turn brownfield sites across the nation into hubs of economic growth and job creation, along with more than $75 million from fiscal year 2022 appropriations.

The funding includes:

  • $112.8 million for 183 selectees for Assessment Grants, which will provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments, and community outreach.
  • $18.2 million for 36 selectees for Cleanup Grants, which will provide funding to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites owned by the recipient.
  • $16.3 million for 17 selectees for Revolving Loan Fund grants that will provide funding for recipients to offer loans and subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites.
  • $107 million for 39 high-performing Revolving Loan Fund Grant recipients to help communities continue their work to carry out cleanup and redevelopment projects on contaminated brownfield properties. Supplemental funding for Revolving Loan Fund Grants is available to recipients that have depleted their funds and have viable cleanup projects ready for work.

The list of selected applicants is available here: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2022-brownfields-assessment-rlf-cleanup-arc-grants-and-rlf

Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s investments in brownfield sites have leveraged more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example:

  • To date, this funding has led to more than 183,000 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment and more than 9,500 properties have been made ready for reuse.
  • Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.43 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfield Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
  • In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15% as a result of cleanup activities.
  • Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.

Additional Background

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Redevelopment made possible through the program includes everything from grocery stores and affordable housing to health centers, museums, greenways, and solar farms.

The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on August 16-19, 2022 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).