Fund historic preservation grants!

Dear [title] [last name],

I am writing in support of the Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation’s request to include funding for the Heritage Barn Grant Program, the Historic Courthouse Grant Program, the Historic Cemetery Grant Program, the Historic Theater Preservation Grant Program, and the Main Street Capital Grants Program in the 2021-2023 capital budget.

Preservation of historic places has a proven track record of bolstering our civic, social, and economic systems. Our historic places help anchor our communities through difficult times by reminding us of where we come from and the stories we share. The economic crisis brought on by COVID-19 has threatened these places, along with the businesses and functions that take place within them. These grant programs will not only help preserve these cherished places, they will help get Washingtonians on the road to economic recovery by creating local jobs, mobilizing private investment, and supporting small businesses.

Since its establishment in 2007, the Heritage Barn Grant Program has provided over $2.6 million in matching grants to heritage barn owners to assist with stabilization and rehabilitation projects. This has funded 122 projects that have preserved structures critical to our state’s agricultural heritage. This program has supported over 460 construction jobs, leveraged private investment, kept project expenses in local economies, and protected agricultural resources statewide. I strongly encourage you to support the continuation of this proven program by including the requested $1.5 million in funding to the Heritage Barn Grant program in your proposed capital budget for the 2021-2023 biennium.

The Historic County Courthouse Rehabilitation Grant Program provides matching grants to assist counties in preserving their courthouses. Since 2005, the program has provided 66 grant awards to 26 county courthouses statewide, totaling $19 million in grant funds that have leveraged more than $50 million in overall capital improvements. These grants support local economies and help preserve these diverse and valuable local landmarks. I strongly encourage you to support $2.932 million in funding to enable the continued rehabilitation of our county courthouses in your proposed capital budget for the 2021-2023 biennium.

Acknowledging the important role historic cemeteries hold in understanding our past and honoring our forebears, the Historic Cemetery Grant Program enables historic cemeteries to continue to serve their communities and honors the military veterans buried within them. Since its establishment in 2017, this program has awarded 42 grants to cemeteries throughout the state. With over 1,700 known cemeteries in Washington, grant requests have more than tripled the available funding over the past two grant cycles and the need for funds to maintain our resting places remains high. I strongly encourage you to support the continuation of this proven program by including the requested $515,000 in funding to the Historic Cemetery Grant Program in your proposed capital budget for the 2021-2023 biennium.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Washington’s historic theaters. These small businesses are a critical part of our state’s arts heritage and culture, serving as local landmarks, meeting places for our communities, and important economic drivers for downtowns. Eighty communities throughout the state have historic theaters, 70% of which are in rural areas, and over half of which are in economically distressed counties. The proposed Historic Theater Capital Grant Program would support positive outcomes for our state’s historic theaters and local economies, creating labor-intensive construction jobs and permanent employment by supporting small business’ ability to remain open. I strongly encourage you to support the creation of this program by including $1 million in funding to the Historic Theater Capital Grant Program in your proposed capital budget for the 2021-2023 biennium.

Washington’s 65 Main Street communities and affiliates serve approximately 10,000 small businesses. Nearly all of these small businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent survey, over 75% of Main Street small businesses indicated that employees are at risk of unemployment and 91% reported loss of revenue. These small businesses are key economic drivers for our local communities and for Washington State. The proposed Main Street Capital Grant Program would help support small businesses in this difficult time by providing funds for COVID-related safety improvements, restorations, and physical improvements to their properties. The program would create labor-intensive construction jobs and permanent employment by supporting small business’ ability to remain open. I strongly encourage you to support the creation of this program by including $5 million in funding to the Main Street Capital Grant Program in your proposed capital budget for the 2021-2023 biennium.

Now more than ever, it is time to invest in Washington’s assets, especially those that keep our communities resilient, rooted, and connected. I urge you to activate the power of preservation and include the Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation’s request for program funding in the upcoming capital budget.

Thank you for your consideration!

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