For the ninth time since 2003, ICMA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency collaborated to produce the National Brownfields Training Conference. This once annual event, now offered every 18 months, provides a forum for the largest gathering of stakeholders interested in cleaning up and redeveloping abandoned and vacant properties.
Held September 2-4 in Chicago, Illinois, more than 2,700 attendees took part in the 2015 brownfields conference, which featured 100+ educational sessions, 10 mobile workshops, several pre- and post-conference trainings, and 120 exhibiting firms, organizations, and associations. Local government attendees have been the largest block of registrants at the conference every time it has been offered.
The conference kicked off with plenary session remarks provided by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. In her remarks, Administrator McCarthy echoed the theme of the conference that repurposing abandoned and vacant commercial properties is a critical strategy for local governments and stakeholders working to create more sustainable communities.
A delegation from China attended the 2015 conference through a grant to ICMA provided by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) Standards in Trade (SIT), which supports trade development workshops. Attendees at a day-long, preconference workshop discussed challenges and strategies for brownfields cleanup and redevelopment in China’s expanding urban areas. The workshop featured speakers from EPA, ICMA, clean-up and real estate firms, and local government stakeholders from both the United States and China.
Other highlights from the conference included:
- A keynote presentation by urbanist Charles Landry, who spoke on the need to incorporate creativity into redevelopment.
- A boat tour mobile workshop organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation focused on the city’s waterfront brownfields and redevelopment projects.
- Multiple networking events, such as the Economic Redevelopment Forum, Environmental Justice Caucus, EPA regional open houses, and a community-sponsored reception at the Chicago Field Museum.
Since 2003, ICMA has organized conferences in Portland (Oregon), St. Louis, Denver, Boston, Detroit, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Chicago. The next conference will likely take place in late 2016 or spring 2017. For more information about the conference, go to www.brownfieldsconference.org or contact Tad McGalliard at ICMA firstname.lastname@example.org.