State of New Jersey partners with a research university, creating a new brownfields center to facilitate community revitalization

On January 16, 2020, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) to establish the NJ Brownfields Center at NJIT (Brownfields Center).

NJIT is a public research university founded in 1881, and located in Newark. The Brownfields Center will provide a variety of technical assistance and resources to assist New Jersey communities with the process of transforming their brownfield sites into revitalized community assets.

Remediating and redeveloping brownfields is a mode of community revitalization that’s growing worldwide. Shown here are the ruins of an old factory in Kolka, Latvia.

Returning contaminated sites to productive use is an essential component of Governor Murphy’s commitment to building stronger, more vibrant communities across New Jersey,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.

NJIT has an impressive history of helping communities successfully take on transformative redevelopment projects. We are excited to work with them and our partners at the municipal level to make New Jersey a safer, healthier place to live and work,” he added.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy identified brownfield remediation and redevelopment as an important component of smart planning that will allow New Jersey to meet its goals for economic growth, minimize the environmental impacts posed by former industrial properties, and help communities become more sustainable and resilient.

To facilitate brownfields redevelopment, Governor Murphy has proposed a new set of programs, including a remediation and redevelopment tax credit, as well as an enhanced brownfields loan program through the NJEDA.

In addition to these proposed programs, in March 2019 the NJEDA and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) entered into an MOU to expand the Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI), a successful program that embeds NJDEP staff in twelve targeted communities to help them navigate complex environmental stressors and set a pathway for successful remediation and redevelopment.

The Brownfields Center at NJIT will expand upon these efforts to offer similar assistance to communities beyond the twelve CCI municipalities, as well as providing additional tools to all brownfield communities in New Jersey. The Center will provide guidance and resources to county and local government entities to help them overcome challenges and navigate the brownfield redevelopment process, as well as educate and engage communities around brownfield issues.

Under the terms of the agreement approved today, the NJEDA will provide $200,000 to launch the Brownfields Center and NJIT will provide quarterly updates on the use of funds and progress in communities receiving assistance.

NJIT is uniquely positioned to support this initiative. The university’s Brownfields Program has helped hundreds of communities advance brownfield sites toward redevelopment by providing technical assistance to brownfield communities across the Northeast under a cooperative agreement with the United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

We are thrilled to partner with the NJEDA to provide critical guidance and resources communities need to transform their brownfields sites into community assets,” said Dr. Atam P. Dhawan, Senior Vice Provost for Research at NJIT.

Brownfield remediation can be an intimidating process, and it is important that we do all we can to support communities that are stepping up to the challenge. Our programs have a proven track record of success, and the additional resources the NJEDA is providing will help us drive positive change in even more communities that need it,” he concluded.

The Brownfields Center at NJIT will build upon this model of success by focusing on the challenges New Jersey communities are facing and targeting its assistance to accelerate brownfield remediation and community revitalization across the state.

Photos courtesy of NJIT.

See NJIT website.

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