On March 8, 2012 I was honored with the opportunity to join esteemed Historic Preservation colleagues in Washington D.C. for the Preservation Action Advocacy Day. Our mission was to advocate for the importance of Historic Preservation with our federal legislators. As a first time attendee, the experience was hugely rewarding.
I was just one member of the delegation from Michigan, which also included Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) Executive Director, Nancy Finegood, board member and developer Scott Lowell, as well as former board member and National Trust for Historic Preservation Advisor, Jim Turner; Chris Gale from Isle Royal; and Royal Oak resident Valerie Hague, who works as an intern with Preservation Action. Also included was Scott Grammer, who provided information regarding Michigan’s historic preservation programs on behalf of Brian Conway, Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Officer.
Early in the morning we underwent training by the staff of Preservation Action. They led us through information on the platforms we should address with our elected officials; in part to assure that each member of our team carried the same message, but perhaps also to help calm a few nerves. After dividing into two teams to make the most of our time on the Hill, we began our efforts to carry out pre-arranged meetings with selected members of Michigan’s Congressional members. During these meetings it was immediately clear that ongoing networking by MHPN has established an undeniably high level of respect and recognition for the organization and especially our Executive Director, Nancy Finegood.
The individual meetings provided an opportunity to express our support and more importantly, need for continued funding of the Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. As someone who has worked on developments in most of the districts, I was able to draw on my experience to provide positive connections.
It is my hope that I added value to this year’s Advocacy Day tour and that I delivered the perspective of creating jobs and substantial community investment as a Michigan based entrepreneur. I do know that job creation and increased property values were resonating with our audiences. Together, the Michigan Advocacy Day delegation demonstrated that historic preservation is undeniably one of the most useful and successful tools available in revitalizing communities, and is the only true program contributing to place-making economic development.
In the end, my time on Capitol Hill for Advocacy Day was one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life – and one I encourage everyone to take on as soon as possible.Tim Hunnicutt CEO, Front Porch Renaissance Group, Bay City