Like many cities in Massachusetts, Worcester has deep industrial roots, and former factory sites are often riddled with PCB's and other contaminants.

Cleaning and redeveloping those properties isn't easy or cheap, so in 1998, the state created an incentive for doing the work: The Brownfields Tax Credit.

And there's been a significant drop in the number of Brownfields Tax Credits awarded to developers by the state Department of Revenue, according to analysis of state tax credit transparency reports by GBH News.

The reason for the decrease isn't clear. The DOR declined an interview request. But some in economic development said that difference in the number of grants awarded is just one of many changes they've noticed to the program; changes they contend are hampering economic growth in cities like Worcester.

The DOR did release proposed changes to the tax credit programtwo weeks ago. A hearing is set for Feb. 11.

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