U.S. EPA officials tour the Southland

From left: SSMMA Executive Director Edward Paesel, EPA Senior Program Advisor Charlie Bartsch, Sterling Lumber Chief Operating Officer Michael O’Connell (Sterling Lumber, Operations), U.S. EPA, Assistant Administrator Response Mathy Stanislaus, Cook County Director of Strategy Planning and Policy Maria Choca Urban,Cook County Deputy Director Department of Environmental Control Kevin Schnoes, Cook County Director and Chief Sustainability Officer Deborah Stone, Cook County Economic Development Program Manager Jennifer Ptak, Department of Planning & Development, U.S. EPA Brownfield Project Manager Matt Didier. (Photo credit/meeting participant Weaver Consultants Group Senior Project Manager Peter Cambouris)

Accompanied by Cook County, SSMMA and other local officials, Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response for the U.S. EPA, and Charlie Bartsch, Senior Advisor for Economic Development for the U.S. EPA, toured the Chicago area at Sterling Lumber Company and LB Steel in Harvey, Ill. The July 8 visit was in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s announcement of twelve new Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) communities. Read more about it here. The Chicago region was designated as a manufacturing community last year, in recognition of its strong manufacturing cluster.

The proposal for the Chicago Metro Region was led by the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development in partnership with more than 20 organizations and municipalities, including the seven counties of northeastern Illinois and the Cities of Joliet and Chicago, acting collectively as the “Chicago Metro Metal Consortium.”

The IMCP program is an initiative designed to revolutionize the way federal agencies leverage economic development funds. It encourages communities to develop comprehensive economic development strategies that will strengthen their competitive edge for attracting global manufacturer and supply chain investments.

As one of the designated Manufacturing Communities, the Chicago Metro Region is eligible for federal funding for workforce development; supplier network; research and innovation; infrastructure and site development; trade and international investment; and operational improvement and capital access. The region also receives coordinated support from 11 federal agencies, including a designated liaison at each agency, to help navigate available resources.

LB Steel is one of the many metal manufacturers located in the Chicago region that is represented by the Chicago Metro Metal Consortium. There, Stanislaus discussed Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) – the use and reuse of materials in the most productive and sustainable way across their entire lifecycle. SMM conserves resources, reduces waste, slows climate change, and minimizes the environmental impacts of the materials we use.

Stanislaus and Bartsch also toured Sterling Lumber Company in Phoenix and Harvey where EPA funding was used to clean-up the former vacant brownfield site. The 65-year-old family-owned business had facilities in Blue Island, Joliet and Gary, but in 2013 consolidated its operations in two buildings on a vacant brownfield site straddling those suburbs. SSMMA and the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation work to promote the redevelopment of vacant brownfield sites and Sterling Lumber exemplifies the opportunity to attract manufacturing companies to invest in these sites, therefore providing jobs for local residents.

More photos are here.

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