St. Petersburg became one of only five communities in the U.S. to receive grants from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up contaminated sites in the city, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor announced Friday.
The two grants, totally $400,000, will go toward conducting 20 environmental assessments and support cleanup planning at eight sites in the Southside Community Redevelopment Area. St. Petersburg is one of only five communities nationwide to receive this grant funding.
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields grants will boost jobs and business opportunities in South St. Petersburg by cleaning up properties that need it through environmental remediation,” said Castor, who championed the federal grants. “Redevelopment in south St. Petersburg will open up all sorts of economic opportunities in neighborhoods where new jobs are needed most.”
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said, “We are very pleased to receive this competitively awarded grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. My administration will concentrate the investment of these funds in the south St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area, to add to the community development tools we have already established with the goals of increasing investment, supporting job creation and entrepreneurship, focusing on workforce training and development, while eradicating blight and environmental hazards for our residents.”
The news comes on the heels of Thursday’s City Council meeting during which members unanimously approved development agreements with two local companies – EMP Industries and Euro Cycles – to expand business operations in south St. Petersburg’s Commerce Park. Upon development of the site, 65 new jobs will be created for the area. These jobs, serving the newly established south St. Pete CRA, will satisfy federal job creation criteria for the Commerce Park.
“This is a banner day for St. Petersburg and a shining example of the opportunity creation occurring throughout south St. Pete,” Kriseman said. “I want to thank EMP Industries and Euro Cycle for their commitment to the Sunshine City.”
Nikki Capehart, the city’s director of urban affairs, said, “As a former resident of Commerce Park, I understand the need to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities during development of the site and after the ribbon is cut. I strongly encourage residents of the CRA to stay in touch with my department and be ready to apply for these jobs. The CRA of Opportunity, and all of St. Pete, will benefit from Euro Cycles and EMP Industries locating in south St. Petersburg.”
Development of the Commerce Park site is one critical component of the mayor’s larger strategy and commitment to catalyze economic growth on the 22nd Street S corridor, in keeping with the south St. Petersburg CRA plan.
Investment in brownfield properties – those lands that are or could be polluted – was a recommendation from Castor’s series of environmental justice roundtable discussions held last year. The meetings, with local advocates and leaders, served to gather comment as the EPA updated its programs, policies and activities related to advancing environmental justice in Tampa Bay and throughout the country.
“Environmental Justice ensures all communities, families and individuals enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards,” Castor said.
She added, “Tampa Bay is a region with a strong track record of turning Brownfield sites into jobs and I will continue to work to secure federal investments to redevelop these and lift communities. In Hillsborough County, Tampa Family Health Centers put Brownfield redevelopment dollars to work, including a site in East Tampa that became a national model. The Encore development is another Brownfield success story.”
Communities use EPA Brownfields grants to leverage public-private investments, spurring the redevelopment of vacant, former manufacturing and commercial sites for broader revitalization in their downtowns. This results in a transformed economy and environment while addressing poverty and economic distress.
Since the inception of the EPA’s Brownfields Program in 1995, cumulative brownfield program investments have leveraged more than $20 billion from a variety of public and private sources for cleanup and redevelopment activities. This equates to an average of $17.79 leveraged per EPA brownfield dollar expended.
These investments have resulted in more than 108,000 jobs nationwide. The EPA Brownfields Program empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up and sustainably reuse brownfields sites.