Last year the Kasich Administration announced that it was phasing out the Clean Ohio brownfield grant program. The Clean Ohio program,which had been in existence for over a decade, had provided approximately $37.5 million per year in incentives for cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields.
Last May, the Administration allocated a final $15 million toward traditional Clean Ohio programs for sampling and cleanup work. JobsOhio took over administration of the program from the Ohio Department of Development. (Click here for prior post discussing changes)
What has been somewhat unclear since the announcement regarding phase out of the Clean Ohio program is whether JobsOhio would replace it with a new brownfield incentive program. As discussed in an article in the Crain's Cleveland Business magazine, it appears JobsOhio does plan on a sizable brownfield redevelopment incentive program to replace Clean Ohio.
About $43 million of the $100 million JobsOhio can spend annually for economic development programs will go toward revitalization projects, Mr. Minor said.
The planned allocation to land revitalization is a big change in the Kasich approach to economic development. The Kasich administration let the former program, Clean Ohio, die last year without assurances that it would be picked up by JobsOhio...
Clean Ohio offered communities as much as $3 million in loans or grants for remediation projects — a number JobsOhio might match, Mr. Minor said. But Mr. Minor said the new program will prefer to invest with companies that will occupy the cleaned-up properties.
What is clear from the comments of JobsOhio officials is that only projects that have a committed end-users after cleanup will qualify for the new brownfield incentives. Also, the old scoring methods utilized by Clean Ohio will not longer be used to identify good projects. JobsOhio will heavily emphasize the following factors in selecting projects:
- number of jobs the project retains;
- the number of jobs created; and
- investment in redevelopment of the property and/or equipment.
Clean Ohio Council to Meet
The Clean Ohio Council will meet tomorrow to discuss changes to its policies for awarding grants. However, whatever changes are made will likely only govern the remaining $15 million in funding. After that money is spent, JobsOhio will initiate its own program with its own procedures and methodologies for selecting projects.
Regardless of whether you like some or all of the changes to the process for selecting projects, it is very good news that a strong brownfield incentive program will exist post-Clean Ohio. In a state with a rebounding economy it is critical to attract redevelopment to properties that may have historical issues tied to Ohio's strong industrial history.