Revitalizing Rural Communities: Addressing Contaminated Sites Using the NEW Investment Playbook
Live Webinar: Tuesday, October 3, 2023, 1:00PM-3:00PM EDT (17:00-19:00 GMT)
Sponsored by: U.S. EPA
Rural community residents and leaders often wish to revitalize their downtowns but do not know where to start or how to pay for the needed planning and infrastructure to move development forward. Written through the lens of rural Appalachia, the revitalization approaches described in the Downtown Revitalization Playbook can be used by small communities across the United States. Rural downtowns often include properties with contaminant concerns, including brownfields and Superfund sites. The health and safety challenges posed by these contaminated spaces, alongside vacant storefronts and empty gathering places, reinforce downtown disinvestment. The playbook provides practical steps to organize a local team with the right mix of skills to reimagine, initiate and attract investment back to rural downtowns.
Ruthie Caldwell, Vision Granted LLC
Ruthie Caldwell is one of the co-authors of the investment playbook as well as the owner of Vision Granted--a grant writing, project management, and facilitation consulting agency based in Eastern Kentucky specializing in community and economic development. Ruthie was a participant in the inaugural Appalachia Investment Framer Action Cohort training series in 2022. She has a Master’s in Communication and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).
Melissa Levy, Community Roots LLC
Melissa Levy is also a co-author of the investment playbook and is the Principal of Community Roots, a rural community and economic development consulting firm. For over 20 years she has been working with federal, state, and local governments, nonprofit organizations, foundations and citizens groups in natural resource-based industries like agriculture, forestry and tourism/recreation, as well as creative economies. She manages the WealthWorks Northeast Regional Hub, spreading the wealth creation approach throughout the northeast. Melissa has a variety of experience working in Appalachia as a coach and facilitator to Central Appalachian Ford Foundation grantees, as a measurement coach, and in feasibility research.
Ray Moeller, Brownfields Assistant Center, West Virginia University
: Ray was one of the key people interviewed for the investment playbook who provided information and case studies about successful brownfield and downtown revitalization projects. He has a Bachelor of Science from Western Michigan University and worked for 28 years in the pharmaceutical industry before escaping to West Virginia a decade ago. Starting as an AmeriCorps VISTA in the New River Gorge Region, Ray then transitioned to a Community Economic Development Extension role landing in Morgantown, WV to work in the Brownfield Assistance Center at WVU, and primarily providing on-the-ground support for statewide Downtown Redevelopment.
Alexis Rourk Reyes, EPA Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, Superfund Redevelopment Program (Rourk.Alexis@epa.gov or 202-564-3179)
Alexis Rourk Reyes serves as the Program Manager for the Superfund Redevelopment Program at the Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Superfund Redevelopment Program helps communities reuse formerly contaminated land through an array of tools, partnerships, and activities, aiming to provide long-impacted local communities with new opportunities to grow and prosper. Alexis previously served in EPA’s Office of Community Revitalization where she led technical assistance on equitable development as part of the Building Blocks program and supported other technical assistance program to communities with data analysis and engagement of underrepresented groups to ensure that community-driven action planning is done with their meaningful participation. Her previous positions and education were focused on in participatory land use planning, environmental justice, and public health.
Aimee Storm, U.S. EPA, Office of Brownfield and Land Revitalization (email@example.com or 202-566-0633)
Aimee Storm is EPA's Land Revitalization Coordinator within EPA's Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization (OBLR). Her work supports community-led redevelopment of contaminated properties and associated neighborhood revitalization strategies. Prior to joining OBLR, Aimee worked on projects that promote green and healthy buildings and sustainable development approaches within EPA Region V's Chicago office. She also worked with EPA's Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office, where she coordinated EPA's land reuse and revitalization efforts on federally-owned properties, including military base redevelopment. Aimee holds Masters Degrees in City & Regional Planning and Business Administration.
Shane Barton, The University of Kentucky (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shane Barton joined the University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK) team in May of 2017 as the Promise Zone Downtown Revitalization Coordinator. Before joining CEDIK, Shane served as the Assistant Director of the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center. He received two undergraduate degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), one in Environmental Science and a second in Urban Studies and Geography, before earning his Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Public Policy and Administration.
Shane has a long-term commitment to inclusive and representative community development strategies with a particular focus on rural communities. He began his career serving the Appalachian region as a VISTA volunteer for the Upper Tennessee River Roundtable while a member of the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed VISTA team in Southwestern Virginia in 2005 where he later won a National VISTA Alumni Service Award for those efforts.
He has been at the University of Kentucky since 2009 and has coordinated various programs in Eastern Kentucky including the Growing Local Economies Program, The Eastern Kentucky Local Motive Alliance, UK Tomorrow Corps, and has presented collaborative work on community/university engagement and development strategies at national and international conferences, coedited the Coal Camp Documentary Project, coauthored articles on “materializing Appalachian Kentucky coal towns”. Shane currently serves as the CEDIK downtown revitalization coordinator and focuses his attention on supporting under served and under resourced communities navigate downtown planning and brownfield redevelopment opportunities throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Tom Bloom, EPA Region 5 (email@example.com)
Tom Bloom is the Region 5 Superfund Redevelopment Coordinator and has been working with communities in his Region since the inception of the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative in 1999. Tom has worked with nearly 100 communities in Region 5 to help consider reuse as part of the cleanup process. Tom has decades of experience with EPA as both a remedial project manager and an on-scene coordinator. He has presented at numerous Brownfields, NARPM, and other conferences on the topic of Superfund Redevelopment and is considered a national expert.
Jean Balent, U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division (firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-566-0832)
Ms Balent is on the staff of the EPA's Technology Innovation and Field Services Division where she has worked to collect and disseminate hazardous waste remediation and characterization information since 2003. Ms Balent manages the Clean Up Information Network website and actively supports online communication and collaboration resources available to EPA. She formerly worked with the US Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Engineering Division in the Buffalo District. Ms Balent was also a member of the SUNY-Buffalo Groundwater Research Group where she constructed and tested large scale models of groundwater flow. Ms Balent has also conducted research relating to the Great Lakes, environmental remediation, and brownfields re-development. She holds a Bachelor's degree in environmental engineering from SUNY-Buffalo and a Master's degree in Information Technology from AIU.
Renan Havill, U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division (email@example.com)
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