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Granholm Establishes Idlewild Centennial Commission; EO Among Three Promoting Cultural Heritage

December 27, 2007

Activities will offer tourism, economic development opportunities

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today created commissions to coordinate activities commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Idlewild resort community in Lake County, the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and the bicentennial of the War of 1812, all designed to increase awareness of Michigan's cultural heritage and to support cultural economic development opportunities in the state.

"History and historical sites are economic magnets for tourism and economic development that can help create jobs," Granholm said.  "Here in Michigan and across the nation, there are countless examples of historic sites and celebrations commemorating historical milestones in our past that have generated tremendous economic benefit.  It is important that we build on that experience."

Founded in 1912, Idlewild represented freedom for many African Americans, being one of more than 30 resorts in the country where African Americans were permitted to vacation and purchase property before such discrimination became illegal in 1964.  Commonly known as "Black Eden," Idlewild was an active, year-round community through the mid-1960s, frequented by well-known entertainers and professionals from throughout the country.

Earlier this year, Granholm established the Idlewild, Michigan Transformation Initiative to leverage the community's unique strengths so it can attract new investment and economic growth. The initiative is being supported by $93,875 in combined federal and state grants. 

In November, Granholm issued a request for proposals to develop an economic development action strategy for Idlewild that will help continue the revitalization and preservation efforts currently underway as part of the initiative.

The sesquicentennial of the Civil War in 2011 and the bicentennial of the War of 1812 in 2012 offer two additional opportunities for statewide observances that will help build on Michigan's cultural tourism and economic development activities.

"Michigan's role in these wars deserves recognition," Granholm said.  "We want to encourage activities and programs that will increase awareness of Michigan's cultural heritage and promote cultural economic development activities in our state to honor these two important historical events."

"The cultural sector is a critical contributor to Michigan's economy, because it can strengthen a community's tax base and help attract and retain people to live and work in Michigan," said Dr. William M. Anderson, director of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL). "There is strong reason to believe that the cultural sector will, in fact, have an even more important role in the new economy characterized by technology, innovation and creativity."
Granholm also signed two executive orders formally establishing the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the State Historic Preservation Review Board, and the State Historical Records Advisory Board within HAL.  These functions have been in place for decades; however, the new executive orders will ensure that the functions of those offices comply with changes in federal laws and regulations and help assure Michigan remains eligible for federal funding.

Michigan's SHPO was established in the late 1960s.  Its main function is to provide technical assistance to local communities in their efforts to identify, evaluate, designate, and protect Michigan's historic resources.  The SHPO also administers an incentives program that includes state and federal tax credits and pass-through grants available to certified local governments.

The Michigan State Historic Preservation Review Board reviews and approves each national register nomination prior to submission to the Keeper of the National Register and provides general advice, guidance, and professional recommendations to the SHPO on matters related to historic preservation.
The Michigan State Historical Records Board serves as a central advisory body for historical records planning and for National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)-funded projects in the state.  The board acts as a coordinating body to facilitate cooperation and communication among historical records repositories and information agencies within the state and as a state-level review body for grant proposals that meet NHPRC grant program guidelines.

The executive orders are:

No. 2007-50: Idlewild Centennial Commission
No. 2007-51: Bicentennial of the War of 1812
No. 2007-52: Sesquicentennial of the Civil War
No. 2007-53: State Historic Preservation Office State Historic Preservation Review Board
No. 2007-54: State Historical Records Advisory Board 
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