Friday, October 9, 2009

North Shore Chamber, Essex Heritage Annual Meeting, Tax Credit Program, First Bloom Grant

Friday, October 9, 2009

North Shore Chamber Continues Important Breakfast Series

Each month the North Shore Chamber continues to provide its members with wonderful programs at their monthly breakfast seminars. Each month the chamber provides either a topical speaker or a panel that provides valuable information to a large regional audience. The speakers generally represent federal, state and local government officials or representatives from private industry and those participants always provide information that is relevant to today’s news or current issues. The series moves between several local hotels or large function facilities and each month draws a large crowd of members and their guests to these forums. The most recent presentation was by the leadership of the leading hospitals in the region, and as always provided topical information on most important issues that affect us all. The medical profession and the current movement in Washington to update medical benefits for a larger portion of the population was a part of the discussion.

Essex Heritage Annual Meeting Scheduled for October 20, 2009

Over the last week or so, invitations to the annual October meeting of Essex Heritage have been delivered both through the mail and electronically. We hope that you received your invitation, but if you did not receive an invitation, and want to attend the meeting contact Essex Heritage at to secure a reservation. The meeting scheduled for the Community House in Hamilton will feature reports on the activities of the Commission ranging from plans for Bakers Island to the new Essex Heritage Scenic Byway project. A slate of new Commissioners will be offered for approval and the slate of officers for the 2009-2019 year will also be confirmed. Three new members of the Essex Heritage Board of Trustees will also be confirmed and three former Essex Heritage Trustees will be designated as Trustee Emeritus. At the meeting several new prestigious Pioneers in Partnership will be presented to regional activists who have completed projects that have had an impact on this region. In a future posting on this message, I will provide an overview of he award winners, and will outline the projects that were identified for the awards.

New Historic Tax Credit Legislation

I recently received a message from the National Trust for Historic Preservation that could have a substantial impact to help move this country out of the economic malaise currently affecting so many regions of the country. The message reported that legislation has been filed in the United States Congress that would extend the existing historic tax credit program. Taking a cue from the current Ken Burns documentary, the report notes, “That if National Parks are America’s best Ideas then surely one could make the case that Federal Rehab Tax Credit has been proven to be one of America’s best historic preservation ideas”. The tax credit concept was first introduced in 1976 and since then, over 50 billion in renovation and revitalization dollars have been invested in preservation projects. Now, on October 1, 2009 Senators Olympia Snowe and Blanche Lincoln along with Representatives Allyson Schwartz and Pat Tiber introduced a measure to the Congress that would make a good idea even better. The 2009 Community Restoration and Rehabilitation Act is a package of amendments that would further the mission of the rehab credit, by encouraging substantial energy savings in historic buildings whole spurring greater investments in commercial projects particularly with smaller businesses located in older neighborhoods where there is a critical need for revitalization. This could be a boon to business development as in 2008 alone the tax credit program produced $5.64 Billion in private investment and created over 57,000 new jobs or about 55 new jobs per project. I am sure that all of our friends in the development business and the banking industry will be watching and monitoring this proposed legislation to see if the legislation progresses through the Congress. Passage of the bill could be a spur to the economy both at the national level and regionally here in Essex County.

First Bloom Program Plans Announced

Essex Heritage in collaboration with the National Park Service and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem were recently notified that they were the recipients of a $20,000 grant from the National Park Foundation. The grant will fund the popular First Bloom program at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. This grant is a follow on project to a similar program at the Saugus iron Works National Historic Site n 2008. First Bloom is a national education conservation program that reaches out to urban youth to teach them about local plants and encourages them to protect the environment in America’s National Parks and in their own back yards.

In this program fifteen young boys and girls from the local Salem club who are in grades 4 through 6, will explore nature and work with National Park Service Rangers and local educators to learn the National Park Service ethic of environmental stewardship. The fifteen youth from Salem are part of a Salem Boys and Girl’s Club program called Ultimate Journey that introduces nature to these children using a variety of outside activities and field trips. Participants will post their experiences on a web site written for kids by kids. First Bloom was created by the National Park Service to honor the passion of former First Lady, Laura Bush for the environment. Ms Bush serves as the honorary chair of the National Park Foundation. This is the second collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, as last summer the club worked with the local National Park Site and Essex heritage on a summer camp initiative around this region,

As always, your questions, comments and observations about the work of the Essex Heritage are encouraged. I can be reached at Thanks. Tom Leonard

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