2009-12-27 / Front Page

Show us the money

Local officials hope to secure clean-up funding from GLRI
BY CHRIS OGRYSKI EDITOR

HURON COUNTY – Local representatives were given key insight last week as to how they can attempt to get a piece of a $5 billion pie, which is being sliced up for Great Lakes related clean-up projects.

A webinar was held Wednesday by representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for people across the country, as the organization was explaining their process for approving the first $120 million in grant and co-op projects as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

Locally, commissioner Kurt Damrow and Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation Carl Osentoski hosted a group at the Huron Area Tech Center so they could participate in the meeting.

The GLRI is a five year, $5 billion grant project with nearly $500 million of funds available in 2010 for this venture. Most of these grants have very little, if any, matching funds required.

According to the EPA, the initiative will “target the most significant problems in the region, including invasive aquatic species, non-point source pollution and contaminated sediment.

“This initiative will use outcome-oriented performance goals and measures to target the most significant problems and track progress in addressing them. EPA and its federal partners will coordinate state, tribal, local and industry actions to protect, maintain and restore the chemical, biological and physical integrity of the Great Lakes.”

The webinar offered clarification and instruction for those interested applying for funds through the EPA’s Request For Proposal (RFP), which was released in late November. The deadline for this round of proposals is January 29, 2010 with money being released for the projects as early as March.

It is expected that 400 projects will be approved as part of 300 awards, as some proposals will include multiple projects.

One key note from the meeting included the fact that while each project classification has minimum and maximum dollars values established, those submitting proposals will not be penalized or precluded from being awarded funds, if their project is less than the minimum or exceeds the maximum dollar amounts given.

Another point of emphasis from the webinar was that while there is no requirement for matching funds in this RFP, voluntary matches and other types of support would be considered by the EPA as they decide which projects would be awarded funds.

From day one, gathering letters of supports from local officials, elected representatives and universities has been a key component of the local strategy.

In October, Damrow explained another element being used in local requests, which he felt could help get some proposals accepted. “I stated to Cameron Davis, EPA Great Lakes Czar (at a meeting earlier this year in Lansing), we are only wasting tax payer dollars if we do not include changes in legislation with our proposals,” he said. “Even if not requested in the RFP, we’ll still add it in Huron County’s proposal.”

For more information on the specifics of the RFP, see www.epa/gov. For those interested in possibly submitting a proposal before the January deadline or for future RFPs, contact Osentoski at the EDC office at (989) 269- 6431.

Look for more updates in the coming weeks as to the progress made locally in the quest to gain funds under this RFP.

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