In July 2023, the Ohio Legislature injected an additional $350 million into the Ohio Brownfield Remediation Program (OBRP) due to the success of the program in the prior two years.  Funding was split into $175 million in FY 24 and a second $175 million available in FY 25. The Legislature also reserved $1 million in funding for each of the 88 counties for FY 24. This resulted in $82 million being available statewide in the first round of grant funding for FY 24 after the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) used 2.5% of the funding to cover administrative expenses. The full $175 million is available statewide for FY 25.

Round 1 of funding for FY 24 opened on December 5, 2023, and closed on April 1, 2024.  The State has sent out notifications to some applicants that are likely to receive funding to address issues with their applications (so called “CURE letters”).  The State is likely to formally announce which applicants will receive funding in the in the next thirty (30) days.

Round 1 was massively oversubscribed.  Because the grant program operates on a first-come, first-served basis, applicants rushed to get their applicants submitted on Day 1.  A total of 129 applications were submitted seeking $251,290,588 on Day 1 of Round 1 alone, which far exceeded the $170 million available in Round 1.

Oversubscription was even more pronounced in urban counties. A total of 37 applications were submitted for Cuyahoga County, 9 for Franklin County and 14 from Hamilton County.  Based on the structure of  Round 1, where $1 million of the $170 million available is reserved for each of Ohio’s 88 counties, it is estimated that only four or five projects of the 37 projects submitted by Cuyahoga County will be funded.  That number could be even lower if more applications are submitted from Ohio’s more rural counties.

The Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) has not yet announced when Round 2 will be open for accepting applications although there is some indication it will be either June or July 2024.  Many unsuccessful applications from Round 1 are likely to simply resubmit the same application in Round 2. 

Due to oversubscription, particularly in the urban counties, prioritization of projects becomes even more critical.  For the FY 24 and FY25 funding, the Legislature modified the procedure for the submission of grant applications by requiring all applications to be submitted through a designated “Lead Entity” for each of the 88 counties. Procedures for naming the Lead Entities are spelled out in the Legislation.  Many counties elected to designate their county landbank as the Lead Entity. The significant change is that the counties were given discretion to choose their priority projects by deciding the order of submission from the Lead Entity to ODOD.  However, many counties failed to have a transparent process with regard to prioritization. 

The good news for unsuccessful projects in Round 1 is that the full $175 million will be available in Round 2.  Therefore, the urban counties, where the majority of projects are located, will have a much better chance in Round 2 of securing a larger portion of the funding since all of the $175 million will be available statewide. The fact that the program was, once again, oversubscribed demonstrates the strong need for continued brownfield funding to address our legacy industrial and commercial brownfield sites in Ohio.