June 5-10, 2003


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DENVER, June 9, 2003 A new survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors finds that redeveloping "brownfields," parcels of land whose reuse may be hindered by real or perceived environmental contamination, could generate more than 575,000 new jobs and as much as $1.9 billion annually in new tax revenue for America's cities, which are facing tight budgets due to rising homeland security costs, state aid cuts, and a weak national economy.

According to the survey, 153 cities have already successfully redeveloped 922 sites, totaling 10,594 acres, and bringing in $90 million in revenues to 45 cities and more than 83,000 jobs to 74 cities. But the potential for job and revenue creation is far greater. The survey finds that 205 cities have 24,987 brownfield sites awaiting redevelopment. Of those, 148 cities reported that 576,373 new jobs and as much as $1.9 billion annually could be generated if their brownfield sites were redeveloped.

"Redeveloping brownfields holds tremendous economic potential for our cities and our nation," said Boston Mayor and Conference President Thomas Menino. "Congress should respond to mayors and increase funding for assessment and clean-up to help stimulate hundreds of thousands of new jobs and potentially billions of dollars in new revenues, at a crucial time for the economies of our cities."

In the survey, the most frequently identified impediment to redevelopment of these sites is lack of clean-up funds (82 percent), liability issues (59 percent), and the need for environmental assessments (51 percent). Three-quarters of respondents said that additional resources are needed to attract greater private-sector investment.

Mayors have requested that Congress provide $250 million in annual funding to the Environmental Protection Agency for brownfields assessment and clean-up. Congress is also currently considering creating two new funding streams at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Commerce to help prepare brownfield sites for redevelopment. The Conference has endorsed this effort. This survey demonstrates that such funding would prove a highly effective investment in economic development and job creation in America's cities.

"Brownfields redevelopment is a win-win for everyone involved," said Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory, who chairs the Conference's Environment Committee. "It is pro-environment, pro-business, pro-neighborhood, and pro-smart growth."

The Government Accounting Office has estimated that there are 400,000 to 600,000 brownfield sites across the United States. Today's survey examines only a fraction of the existing sites. Still, it is the most detailed report documenting specific brownfield sites.

"Brownfields redevelopment is the key to smart growth," said Elizabeth (NJ) Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, who chairs the Conference's Brownfields Task Force. "By recycling brownfield sites, we ease development pressures on farmland and neighboring communities."

"Brownfield redevelopment is a key component of revitalizing many of the nation's urban neighborhoods," said Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson, who co-chairs the Conference's Brownfields Task Force. "Turning these properties around and making them productive makes city neighborhoods better places to live, work, and play."

Since 1992, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has taken a national leadership role in raising and addressing the brownfields issue. Working closely with the business community, the Conference has identified and worked to address impediments to brownfields redevelopment. These efforts culminated in the 2002 passage of the Small Business Liability and Brownfields Redevelopment Act, which addressed liability issues and provided some environmental assessment and clean-up funds.

The complete report can be downloaded at

Press contacts:
Andy Solomon (202) 861-6766 or (202) 744-3117
Lina Garcia (202) 861-6719 or (202) 744-2959

©2003 U.S. Conference of Mayors