Historical Society Makes Bid for Stimulus Funds

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Governor Strickland calls the more than $8 billion in federal stimulus money coming to Ohio “the right investment at the right time to jump start the stalled economy.” Strickland and other elected officials had high praise Wednesday for the federal stimulus package even as some individuals lined up to make a bid for some of the money.

Flanked by Senator Sherrod Brown, Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, Governor Ted Strickland repeated the new stimulus bill’s benefits for Ohio.

“The resources will provide for the saving or the creating of approximately 130,000 jobs for Ohioans,” Strickland said. “It will provide tax cuts for working families while helping to protect essential state services that Ohioans rely on every day.”

Columbus officials hope the huge economic stimulus package includes money to prevent layoffs of police officers and police recruits. That happened last month when recruits were laid-off instead of being sworn-in.

But others want a piece of the stimulus package, too. That includes the Ohio Historical Society which says the restoration or preservation of 250 historic sites in 91 communities would do a lot for the Ohio economy. Historical Society director Bill Laidlaw:

“Of course this is a very unusual time and this is not just opportunism on our part we know it’s a very important factor in attracting new businesses to come to the state of Ohio because a lot of people look for, ‘Well, what is the town like?’”

The Ohio Historical Society estimates that it will need $610 million for the carpenter- and shovel-ready projects. Laidlaw says preservation of a property keeps more money in the state.

“We can get these projects up and going very quickly which I think is one of the government’s criteria,” Laidlaw says. “So we think we’ve got some wonderful assets that could be preserved that would not only put people to work immediately but most of the money would stay in the state – this kind of work creates relatively more jobs and it adds to the fabric of life in our communities and that helps attract new businesses.”

Laidlaw wants the Ohio Historic Preservation Office to oversee the stimulus funds. The Historical Society is a non-profit organization.

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