A Year’s End Reflection on MHPN’s Public Policy Efforts

As the end of 2011 approaches, I find myself taking stock of the year’s activities – highlighting successes, reflecting on disappointments, and figuring out how to apply these lessons learned into the year ahead.  As Co-Chair of MHPN’s Public Policy Committee, I can assure you that this was one of the most dynamic years we’ve experienced at the State Capitol.  Led by our incredibly hard working staff, we spent much of 2011 waging an aggressive campaign to retain Michigan’s historic rehabilitation tax credits (HTCs).  With the help of our lobbyist, Mike Frederick, the Michigan Historic Preservation Network met with dozens of legislators, legislative staff, and other interest groups to inform them about the role that historic preservation plays in economic development, job creation, and community revitalization.

BEFORE: Vacant Borden Creamery Building circa 2004. The building was vacant for 40 years, during which time over 25 attempts to reuse the building failed. Courtesy of Gregory Saxton.

Many of you were a key part of these efforts – making phone calls to legislative offices, writing letters and emails, encouraging others to do the same, or making a financial contribution to our advocacy efforts.  Whatever role you may have played, I want to thank you for being a part of these efforts.  While we no longer have the HTCs, I believe that we achieved significant recognition and support for MHPN and its mission that will be critical in helping to advance other legislative goals and priorities in the coming year, including development of Governor Snyder’s new Community Revitalization incentives.

AFTER: Completely rehabilitated Borden Creamery Building, Winter 2008. Incentives such as tax credits, environmental clean-up funds, and other creative financing made the transformation of the Borden Creamery Building possible. Courtesy of Greg Saxton.

Going forward, we plan to use the momentum we’ve built in the Legislature to move other policy priorities, and we are excited to have you be a part of these efforts as well.

NEW/OLD WORKSPACE: The Borden Creamery Building is now home to the Mt. Pleasant City Hall and over 30 municipal employees. Courtesy of Gregory Saxton.

As we look to 2012 and beyond, we want to support policies and legislation that leverage our historic and cultural assets in cultivating vibrant, thriving, and economically competitive communities throughout Michigan.  Accordingly, the Public Policy Committee and MHPN leadership have created a long-term policy agenda to help guide our legislative efforts in the years to come.

MHPN Public Policy Priorities

  • Advocate for policies and legislation that improve Michigan’s quality of life and economic competitiveness by creating vibrant regions, downtowns, and neighborhoods where people want to live, work, and open businesses.
  • Ensure that there are adequate state programs and resources to incentivize historic preservation and the role it plays in economic development, job creation, and community revitalization, and ensure that these programs are administered in a fair, equitable, and geographically representative manner.
  • Ensure that there are incentives for residential historic preservation projects.
  • Alert State agencies and State elected officials on the power and impact of historic preservation on economic development.
  • Establish a revolving loan fund to support historic preservation projects throughout the State.
  • Study the impact that the absence of historic preservation incentives has on municipalities and local historic districts.
  • Monitor the impact of downsizing/rightsizing efforts throughout Michigan, and work to ensure that our physical and cultural heritage remains vibrant.

We will, of course, continue to monitor and respond to other legislation that has an impact on historic preservation, but we felt that it was important to build a framework for our legislative efforts, and we look forward to advancing these goals with many of the new partners and allies that we have gained through our efforts this year.

During this season of thanksgiving for all that we have and hopefulness for what may come, I offer my heartfelt thanks for your continued involvement and support of historic preservation, and I am hopeful for what we can achieve together in the new year!

Warm wishes for the happiest of holidays,

Lisa Nuszkowski

Co-Chair, MHPN Public Policy Committee

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