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West Virginia Brownfields conference scheduled for September

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The West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers have scheduled their 9th annual West Virginia Brownfields Conference for Sept. 11-12 at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Convention Center in Huntington.

The event sets up educational programs and networking opportunities for communities, development professionals and service providers who all work with brownfield redevelopment.

Brownfields can include all property that is hindered from redevelopment or reuse because of the presence or a perceived presence of a hazardous substance or contaminant.

Previous conferences have touched on topics such as building demolition and environmental threats, sustainability and economic development, site control issues, land banks, community planning and engagement, financing projects and legal issues.

The West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers were created in 2005 by the West Virginia Legislature to empower communities to plan and implement redevelopment projects.

"Each year, we try to cover the latest topics," said Patrick Kirby, director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University. "But this year, we're reaching out to our constituents in West Virginia and surrounding states in search of new topics that will reflect the issues facing project investors, government officials, economic developers and technical professionals from across the state."

According to George Carico, director of the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall University, brownfields properties can include former industrial sites, closed service stations, abandoned buildings or vacant properties.

The event committee is still looking for presentations to be made at the conference. Example presentation topics include finance and funding mechanisms, liability and risk mitigation, site redevelopment strategies and other redevelopment-related ideas, case studies and best practices.

Presentation proposal forms can be downloaded at wvbrownfields.org. The deadline for presentation proposals is March 3.

"The call for presentations is a way of expanding on past conference successes, getting more communities and organizations involved, with the anticipated result being a wider variety of conference topics," Carico said. "While we have always been diligent about bringing quality, timely and relevant information to the conference, we want to give ample opportunity for folks from across the state to provide agenda input and take part in the program."

Carico said event planners also will work with the Cabell-Huntington Convention & Visitors Bureau for the event.

"One of our goals was to bring new visitors to Huntington and to get folks who haven't been in a while to come back," he said.