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Mar 14, 2017

Columbia, S.C. Creates Plan for Flood Zone Development

A federal grant program that has leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars in private development in Columbia (S.C.) over the past two decades could help spur the redevelopment of flood-impacted areas in the city.

That effect could hinge on at least two factors, the city council was informed in March: One, whether the city is approved this year for a $300,000 grant it has applied for from the Environmental Protection Agency brownfields program. The second is whether and how the EPA and the brownfields program are impacted by the Trump administration.

Over the past 17 years, Columbia has received about $1.8 million from the EPA program aimed at promoting development of properties plagued by environmental issues or perceptions of environmental issues. Its newest grant request hopes to leverage brownfield funds to help areas such as the Garners Ferry Road corridor recover from the historic flood of 2015.

The city has used brownfield funds to kickstart redevelopment projects at more than 60 properties – many of them in the Main Street corridor, but others stretching out to north Columbia, the Rosewood community and other areas around downtown and beyond.

A sample of 15 of those projects, which include the Palmetto Compress building and the Curtiss-Wright Hangar, showed a return on investment of more than $300 million, nearly 900 new jobs and more than $25 million in new wages over 20 years.

Brownfield funds often have been some of the first dollars to go toward many recent high-profile developments in the city, said Fred Delk, director of the Columbia Development Corp. They can cover the cost of environmental studies to determine whether a project is feasible to start with. That’s money a developer saves and uses as incentive to invest in a project, Delk said.

City Council members were planning to work to lobby U.S. Congressional representatives and the Trump administration to continue the brownfields program by touting its benefit and success in Columbia.

Mayor Steve Benjamin, who met with Washington lawmakers and administrators recently with mayors from around the country, said there is “significant support” in Washington for continuing the brownfields program.

Source: The State

Article tags: Ely Community Center Foundation, Gerry Snyder

A Mill(ion) Dollar Opportunity

The Bates of Maine Woolen Mill, a former industrial anchor in the city of Lewiston (pop.36, 500) in western Maine, has been transformed into a modern and bustling economic hub following years of city, state, federal, non-profit, private involvement and funding

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