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In 2005, the West Virginia Legislature created the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers to empower communities to plan and implement brownfields redevelopment projects.

The two centers, one at Marshall University and the other at West Virginia University, promote economic development and environmental and public health protection through innovative redevelopment of brownfield sites.

The centers also promote and coordinate the development of brownfield property by providing training and technical assistance, facilitating site preparation efforts, engaging community involvement, as well as by helping communities with grant writing and leveraging project funding.

In an effort to provide comprehensive assistance to communities throughout West Virginia, the two centers coordinate by producing state-wide conferences, collaborating on regional projects and sharing current brownfields information.

The Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center is housed in the West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI) at the National Research Center for Coal and Energy (NRCCE) at WVU. It serves the state’s northern 33 counties with collaborations extending statewide.

The West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall is housed within the Center for Environmental, Geotechnical, and Applied Sciences (CEGAS). It serves the southern 22 counties in West Virginia with collaborations also extending statewide.

The Pittsburgh-based Claude Worthington Benelux Foundation has extended its support to two of the West Virginia Brownfields Centers’ programs — the Brownfields, Abandoned and Dilapidated Buildings (BAD) Program and the WV Foundations for Overcoming Challenges Focus and Utilizing Strength (FOCUS WV) Program.

The BAD Buildings Program is a statewide initiative that provides communities with technical assistance, tools, resources and a clear implementation process to address problem properties. Through the BAD Buildings Toolkit, accessed via wvbadbuildings.org, communities can download tools and templates to survey and prioritize buildings, prevent blight and address demolition and deconstruction.

The site also offers success stories from West Virginia communities and links to grants and loans for projects related to historic preservation, community building and economic development.

The FOCUS WV Program was founded in 2008 to provide funding, programmatic and technical assistance, and site analysis tools to address barriers to redeveloping brownfields sites in West Virginia communities. The program fosters the redevelopment of brownfields projects through community development, education and entrepreneurship by engaging stakeholders and project partners, conducting site research and market analysis, and attracting new project investors and developers.

Currently the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers are offering a webinar series to help communities, nonprofits and other eligible entities understand and apply for Environmental Protection Agency brownfields grants.

The webinar series is designed to replace the centers’ usual in-person workshops in light of the continuing concern about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two-part webinar series will help applicants prepare an EPA brownfields assessment, cleanup or multipurpose grant. Experienced staff from the BACs, the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection and the EPA will provide an in-depth review of the grant guidelines.

Questions or requests for more information about the webinars should be directed to Carrie Staton at carrie.staton @mail.wvu.edu.