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Rural Brownfield Investment Act conserves green space, creates greater economic opportunities

Both chambers of the General Assembly last week unanimously passed legislation that will fast-track the redevelopment of former industrial sites, known as brownfields, throughout Tennessee.

Gov. Bill Lee in February announced his proposal to clean up brownfields as part of his legislative package for 2023.

State Rep. Ron Gant, R-Piperton, guided passage of the bill, known as the Rural Brownfields Investment Act. House Bill 319 creates a state-administered brownfield grant program with the goal of providing technical and financial resources directly to communities while bolstering incentives for developers. It will provide $5 million annually for investigation, assessment and remediation to local governments, economic development agencies, development boards and county land banks. 

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“This plan partners with communities by helping to remove financial barriers that have previously prevented them from utilizing these properties,” Gant said. “Cleaning up these areas will create more economic opportunities but also allow us to conserve more green spaces for agricultural and recreational use.”  

Brownfields are generally defined as abandoned or underutilized properties like industrial facilities. Their use or development can be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. They often contribute to blight and community decline. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature. 

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