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EPA Awards Recovery Act Funds to Provide Green Job Training in Chicago / Workers to clean contaminated sites and weatherize buildings, helping spur development

Release Date: 07/30/2009
Contact Information: Brendan Gilfillan gilfillan.brendan@epa.gov 202-564-2081 202-564-4355

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 30, 2009

CHICAGO – Eighty Chicagoans will receive critical job training funded by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced today at a Chicago press conference. These workers will be trained for various environmental jobs, including the clean-up of so-called “brownfields,” which may be contaminated by hazardous chemicals or pollutants, turning sites from rundown eyesores to revitalized, productive properties. Workers will also be trained to weatherize buildings, lowering energy costs and reducing wasteful energy usage.

"The Recovery Act is not only helping to train individuals for good jobs in their communities, it's helping them rebuild a lasting foundation for prosperity. By restoring undeveloped lots through the Brownfields program, or weatherizing buildings to lower energy costs, these workers will generate new economic possibilities, bringing new opportunities and jobs here,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “EPA is providing solutions in these challenging economic times, and making clear that – in Chicago or anywhere else in the country – protecting our health and our environment is a great way to rebuild our economy.”

OAI, Inc., a Chicago non-profit, will receive a $499,047 grant to train 80 workers for green jobs. The grant is provided through EPA’s Brownfields Job Training Program. OAI plans to place at least 75% of its graduates in environmental technician jobs. OAI will work with an Employer Advisory Council, including the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation, and DNR Construction, Inc., to place graduates in environmental jobs.

EPA established the Brownfields Job Training Program to help residents take advantage of jobs created by the assessment and cleanup of brownfields and to ensure the communities reap the benefits from brownfields redevelopment. The target areas for this grant include the 9th and 24th wards in Chicago’s South Side and seven south-Chicago suburban communities, according to OAI. After evaluating the local labor market, the City of Chicago identified a need to fill a growing number of positions in weatherization and site clean up.

Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant, including mine-scarred lands or sites contaminated by petroleum or the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs. EPA’s Brownfields Program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites.

EPA expects to announce additional brownfields and job training grants across the country in the coming days.

President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on February 17, 2009, and has directed that the Recovery Act be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability. To that end, the American people can see how every dollar is being invested at Recovery.gov.

Additional information on EPA Region 5 brownfields activities is available at http://www.epa.gov/r5brownfields.

Information on ARRA brownfields job training grants and other EPA Brownfields activities under the Recovery Act: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/eparecovery/index.htm

Information on brownfields job training grants: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/job.htm

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