Winner: Bruce Rasher
Both in his capacity as Redevelopment Manager for RACER Trust and in his leadership and advocacy for brownfields redevelopment nationally, Bruce Rasher is a relentless and effective proponent of the safe cleanup and productive reuse of impaired or underutilized properties, especially reuse that creates new economic opportunities for the local workforce and restores tax base for the community.
Mr. Rasher directs the redevelopment and public engagement activities of RACER Trust, which was created and funded to clean up and repurpose for redevelopment a portfolio of former General Motors Corp. properties in 14 states, many in communities that were very hard-hit by the Great Recession and loss of manufacturing jobs. At its 10-year anniversary in the spring of 2021, the activities of RACER Trust and its buyers/end users have generated nearly 26,500 permanent jobs and annual outputs of $1.9 billion in labor income and $7.3 billion in total annual economic impact. Pledges from RACER buyers/end users that aren’t yet realized are expected to add approximately 22,000 permanent jobs, $1.4 billion in labor income and $7.6 billion in total annual impact.
Mr. Rasher, who works closely with environmental cleanup colleagues at RACER to coordinate redevelopment and remedial activities to minimize disruption to either, is a nationally recognized expert in brownfield policy and development. He has delivered educational keynote presentations at events hosted by the Center for Creative Land Recycling, the Urban Land Institute, the Surplus Property Roundtable and the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast, and is a respected media source for commentary and analysis on policies and other matters related to brownfield cleanup and reuse. He also is former chairman and CEO of the National Brownfields Association.
In addition to driving direct benefits to RACER Trust communities by carefully vetting and selecting buyers capable of maximizing each property’s redevelopment potential, RACER’s redevelopment team has acted as an advocate for communities, identifying and sharing grant opportunities, connecting local leaders with state and national resources and incorporating local infrastructure needs with site remediation and redevelopment plans. By engaging with community leaders and developing an understanding of local priorities, Mr. Rasher and the redevelopment team have efficiently and successfully targeted buyers and end users whose plans were likely to be embraced, smoothing the path to productive — and often creative — reuses. Examples include new manufacturing facilities in several locations, including Flint, Mich.; the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Mich.; distribution centers in Livonia, Mich., and Wilmington, Del.; M1 Concourse, an auto enthusiasts’ destination and event space in Pontiac, Mich.; affordable housing in Muncie, Ind.; a solar field on a landfill in Danville, Ill.; the conversion of a former industrial area in Saginaw, Mich., to a passive-use riverfront park; and a new, transportation-oriented town center in Ewing Township, N.J.
Before joining RACER Trust, Mr. Rasher served as Vice President of CBRE, the world’s largest real estate services firm, where he was based in Detroit and managed CBRE’s North American manufacturing and brownfields specialty practice groups. He is the former mayor of Marshall, Mich.