The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on July 7 announced $592,300 in brownfields grants that will provide job training and environmental property assessments in Huntington and southern West Virginia.
“EPA’s brownfields grants make a visible difference in communities by helping to put people back to work while also creating cleaner, healthier and economically stronger neighborhoods,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “This funding will help revitalize areas that have been adversely impacted by contamination from past industrial activity.”
The grants include $400,000 in funding to the City of Huntington to assess former industrial properties that have been adversely impacted by petroleum and other hazardous substances. Since 1995, EPA’s Brownfields program has leveraged more than $22 billion from a variety of public and private sources for assessment, cleanup and redevelopment activities on brownfield sites.
"Huntington's neighborhoods were built around industrial plants, and it has been historically known as a manufacturing center. In fact, it still provides hundreds of manufacturing jobs, among the most of any city in West Virginia. Unfortunately, we also have hundreds of acres of vacant industrial property," Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said. "This is a monumental first step in our efforts to restore these vacant properties to productive employment centers. Their restoration is critical to our future."
The remaining $192,300 is an Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant awarded to Coalfield Development Corporation to train 80 residents for entry-level environmental jobs helping to clean up abandoned and contaminated properties in southern West Virginia. Specifically, the grant will focus on Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln and Mingo counties. As one of 19 such grants awarded nationally, the job training grant is designated to help train low-income residents in West Virginia with an emphasis on young adults, veterans, and coal miners living in areas environmentally degraded by coal mining.
The Coalfield Development Corporation is a not-for-profit organization that has been providing affordable homes, creating jobs, and generating opportunities for low income families in southern West Virginia since 2009.
Since 1998, EPA has funded 256 job training grants exceeding $54 million. More than 13,900 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 10,000 have secured employment in the environmental field with an average hourly starting wage of $14.18. The development of this green workforce will allow the trainees to develop skills that will make them competitive in the construction and redevelopment fields.
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