Program Goal:

The goal of the Brownfields Grant Program is to support community redevelopment in the state of Wisconsin.

This program supports the following WEDC Strategic Pillar and Focus Area:

Community and Economic Opportunity: Community Development

Program Description:

Under the program outlined in Wis. Stat. §238.13, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will grant funds to local governments, businesses, nonprofits and individuals for redeveloping commercial and industrial sites that have been adversely impacted by environmental contamination.

Eligibility Requirements:


“Designated Rural County” means a county with a population density of less than 155 residents per square mile as of the 2010 Census.

The Applicant:

Any city, village, town, county, individual or business(1) may apply for funds provided that the party that caused the environmental contamination and any person who possessed or controlled the environmental contaminant is unknown, cannot be located or is financially unable to pay for the remediation of the soil and/or groundwater.

Phase I and Phase II Environmental Reports must be completed no greater than five years prior to the application submittal date, unless:

  • Subsequent environmental reports and site ownership history provide sufficient information to demonstrate current environmental conditions; or
  • The applicant demonstrates that no activities likely occurred on the site since the Phase I and Phase II that would adversely impact the environmental conditions.

(1) Wis. Stat. §238.13(1)(g)
(2) Wis. Stat. §238.13(2)(a)2

Qualified Uses:

Brownfields funds may be used for brownfield redevelopment or associated environmental remediation activities. Grant funds may typically be used for the following activities:

  • The environmental investigation, remediation or monitoring of the site
  • The removal of hazardous waste containers
  • Soil removal, capping, barrier installation and vapor intrusion systems
  • Demolition activities that will facilitate redevelopment in a brownfield project

Under §238.13(2)(a)1m, Wis. Stats. the recipient may not use the grant to pay lien claims of DNR or the federal Environmental Protection Agency based on investigation or remediation activities or to pay delinquent real estate taxes or interest or penalties related to those taxes.

Investment Matching:

The matching investment for requested grant funds is derived from the investment generated from the following activities:

  • The acquisition cost of the brownfield site
  • Site clearance, building demolition or building renovation
  • Asbestos and lead paint abatement
  • Infrastructure improvements

Activities ineligible for grant assistance or match include:

  • Past costs
  • Indirect construction costs (a.k.a. “soft” costs)
  • Costs of new construction, including geopiers or other foundational support systems
  • Costs of building renovation

Grant Criteria:

WEDC will take the following into account when considering a BF Award:

  • The potential of the project to promote economic development in the area
  • A written financial commitment by a lending institution or government entity to the applicant enabling the project to reach fruition
  • Documentation of ownership or future ownership of the project site by the submittal of the most recent executed real estate transaction
  • The extent and degree of soil and groundwater contamination at the project site
  • The need for a vapor intrusion system
  • The adequacy and completeness of the site investigation and remediation plan
  • The eligible costs projected to be utilized for grant funds and matching investments in the application’s budget are supported by estimates from qualified and independent third parties clearly demonstrating how project costs were derived
  • The determination of the future higher use of the property since it will impact the extent of the environmental clean-up
  • Project consistency with community planning documents and whether a developer’s agreement was concluded
  • The favorable impact of the project on human health and the environment
  • The size of the property and its relationship to the downtown area and economic centers of the community
  • Any other factors considered by WEDC to be relevant to assessing project readiness and viability

Incentives and Available Funding (FY19): $5,000,000

Wis. Stat. §238.13(2)(b)3 requires the applicant to contribute matching funds of at least 50% of the grant. Due to program demand, generally WEDC requires that the applicant’s eligible matching investment is at least 70% of the eligible project costs, unless the project is located in a Designated Rural County, in which case the match may be reduced to 50 percent of the eligible project costs.

The maximum award generally does not exceed $500,000 unless the request for funds is for a project that, due to the size of the brownfield and the degree and extent of contamination, clearly justifies an award beyond normal parameters.

Activities and Expected Outcomes:

Assist 14 communities or businesses and achieve a 33:1 leverage of other investment.

Performance Reporting:

Recipients will be required to annually submit a performance report documenting capital investment, environmental remediation and assessed taxable property values, as well as any other contract deliverables. WEDC may impose additional reporting requirements to evaluate project performance and to ensure compliance with contract deliverables.

Application and Award Process:

The Brownfields Grant Program has a continuous application process. Applicants for Brownfields Grants should complete an application through a regional economic development director. The completed application will be assigned to an underwriter and go through the award review process. All awards will be made in consultation with the DNR.

For more information on application review, internal process and award distribution, please refer to WEDC’s award administration policies and procedures.