Economic Revitalization through Brownfields

Laura Oakleaf


President Preckwinkle welcomes attendees to the Economic Revitalization through Brownfields Workshop at Triton College

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle talks about her strong commitment to the environment and economic development.

On September 24, President Preckwinkle kicked off the opening session of Economic Revitalization through Brownfields, organized by the Cook County Department of Environmental Control and KSU TAB (Kansas State University – Technical Assistance to Brownfields Program) and hosted by Triton College. The purpose of the workshop was to help communities gain a greater understanding of Brownfield revitalization, what it is, and how to make it part of an economic development strategy. Topics covered included characteristics of a successful brownfield cleanup and redevelopment, grant and technical assistance resources available from federal, state and county entities, and success stories from suburban Cook County, the importance of community-based planning and job opportunities presented by brownfields redevelopment.

Other speakers included representatives from the KSU TAB (Kansas State University – Technical Assistance to Brownfields Program), Deborah Stone, Cook County Chief Sustainability Officer and Federal and State representatives. Senior staff from Cook County’s Bureau of Administration and Bureau of Economic Development were on hand to present resources available to local communities from their offices. Attendees were encouraged to take the information back to their respective communities in order to determine ways in which a greater understanding of Brownfield revitalization will aid their economic growth strategy.

John Yonan, Superintendent of Transportation and Highways for Cook County, tells how the County helped redevelop Sterling Lumber in the south suburbs by coordinating critical transportation investments.

Mollie Dowling of OAI, Inc. explains the many opportunities for jobs associated with brownfield redevelopment

Peter Cambouris of Weaver Consulting presented success stories from south Cook County.

Many federal resources are available to help local communities with brownfields redevelopment, explains Matt Didier of USEPA Brownfields Program, Region V.


Susan Campbell, Director of the Cook County Department of Planning and Development outlines Cook County’s many economic development tools.

Brownfield redevelopment goals should spring from what the community wants and needs, says Kim Wasserman, Organizing and Strategy Director for the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.

Margaret Renas, Delta Institute and KSU TAB Partner (pictured) and Mike Charles, Illinois EPA kicked off the workshop with a presentation on characteristics of a successful brownfield cleanup and redevelopment.

Dave Talbott, Village Engineer with Franklin Park, explains how the Village successfully redeveloped a brownfield into a LEED Gold building for its Police Department, and used green infrastructure to mitigate flooding.


Deborah Stone, Chief Sustainability Officer and Director of the Cook County Department of Environmental Control discusses the County’s role in Brownfield Assessment.