In 2000, Ohio originally voted to approve the Clean Ohio Fund as a $400 million dollar bond program. In 2008, the Clean Ohio Fund was reauthorized through a ballot initiative known as Issue 2. The ballot initiative was overwhelmingly approved in all 88 counties which extended the Fund with another $400 million dollars.
Clean Ohio is probably the most successful brownfield redevelopment program in the Country. Approximately $400 million of the $800 million in funding went to brownfield projects in the last twelve years. Here is an outdated chart from the Clean Ohio Fund Report which shows the number of projects and dollars used for brownfield revitalization just in the first four rounds of the program.
Since the first four rounds that State has gone to two rounds per year. We are now up to Round number 10.
The Clean Ohio Fund Interactive Map provides the location and project information for over 1,200 projects financed through the Clean Ohio Fund, representing over $627 million in awards to date.
Four Rounds Left After July
Round 10 is in July. Then there is enough funding for Round 11-2 (Round 12 will be May 2012). That is not a lot more opportunities to use the program if you have a project that you think would be a good match for Clean Ohio funding. It takes around 6-8 months to get a project ready for a Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund (CORF) project. Which means projects for Round 10 are basically getting ready to be finalized and Round 11 projects are already being discussed.
Will Clean Ohio Continue?
The Clean Ohio program has been wildly successful. Funding projects across the State. Many significant development projects simply would not have happened with out the grant funds available through the program.
While perhaps a little premature, its time to start planning another ballot initiative if suporters are going to seek to renew the program. Governor Kasich has not been asked his opinion as to whether the program should continue. While the program is funded through bonds it still takes state revenue to retire those bonds. With an $8 billion budget hole and a difficult budget process, the challenges facing renewal have never been greater.
What Happens if Clean Ohio is Not Renewed?
The major source of assistance in Ohio to spur brownfield redevelopment will disappear. There are other federal and local programs, but none with the resources and successful track record like Clean Ohio. Unfortunately, if the program is not renewed, many brownfield sites with significant contamination will simply be avoided. New development will be pushed out to greenfields and perhaps away from our urban core.
With the number of brownfield sites remaining in the State, the need for the program remains as strong as it was in 2000.