by Tad McGalliard | Jul 01, 2023 | PM MAGAZINE – ARTICLE
With the expansion of existing federal funding initiatives and the development of new programs resulting from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and planned investments in clean energy and climate resiliency from the Inflation Reduction Act, many federal agencies have established technical assistance centers to support cities, counties, towns, and townships, especially those that have not traditionally received federal funding. Most of this assistance is available without a fee or requirements for a lengthy consulting contract or procurement process.
Typically, the programs identified in this article will follow a similar process of intake through an online form or referral from the federal agency; an onsite and/or virtual assessment of key challenges and needs; a longer-term engagement of activities targeting a priority need; and wraparound services and follow-up to help ensure that the targeted outcomes are achieved.
Environmental Finance Centers
The EFC program has been around for a number of years, but recent funding has led to an increased number of centers focused on supporting community projects in areas like drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure. Other focal points include local infrastructure investments in solid waste, clean air, greenhouse gas reduction, and toxic substance management. In late 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced 29 new EFCs that will be operated by universities and nonprofit organizations. ICMA is a partner with the Low Impact Development Center (LIDC), which will support communities in EPA’s Region 3, which includes the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Learn more at epa.gov/waterfinancecenter/efcn.
Technical Assistance for Brownfields
Since the mid-1990s, EPA has awarded grants to local governments and community organizations to assess and clean up brownfields, in addition to setting up revolving loan funds and conducting area wide planning. EPA funds several organizations (including ICMA, see icmatab.org) to provide support to communities, tribes, and nonprofit organizations on their brownfield challenges.