• 03/03/2021 9:30 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    From the SBA:

    The U.S. Small Business Administration has some key changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which will be available for a limited amount of time to ensure America’s smallest businesses get exclusive access. If you are a small business owner with fewer than 20 employees, or are self-employed; there is new information for you. Please join us for a series of webinars hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Public Private Strategies Institute, & other stakeholders to hear about:

    • What steps you can take now to take advantage of this special opportunity, which closes at 5:00 P.M. EST, Tuesday, March 9th, 2021
    • Additional changes and recent policy announcements made by the Biden-Harris Administration
    • Have your questions answered by SBA Leadership


    Mar. 3, 12:30 p.m. ET, Women Business Owners, Click here to register.

    Mar. 4, 3:00 p.m. ET, Asian-American + Pacific Islander, Native American + Tribal Small Business Owners; Click here to register.

    Mar. 5, 1:00 p.m. ET, Black + African-American Small Business Owners, Click here to register.

    Mar. 5, 3:00 p.m. ET, Hispanic Small Business Owners, Click here to register.

    Mar. 6, 2:00 p.m. ET, Veterans, Self-Employed Business Owners, Click here to register.

    Mar. 8, 3:00 p.m. ET, LGTBQ Business Owners, Youth Entrepreneurs, Restaurant Owners, Click here to register.

    Cosponsorship Authorization # 21-0501-14: The SBA’s participation in this cosponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least 24 hours in advance of this event; please contact Judette Crosbie at Judette.Crosbie@sba.gov with subject header ACCOMMODATION REQUEST.

  • 03/01/2021 1:48 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    As President Biden enters his second full month in office, his vow to work with both parties is running headlong into the reality that Capitol Hill continues to beset by bitter partisanship. And while he is showing some early success in advancing his policy agenda, tensions between the parties may make progress more difficult in the months to come.

    On the legislative front, Biden is on his way to getting his first major bill signed into law – albeit without the support of Republicans. On Friday, the House voted 219-212 along mostly party lines to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that includes an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, $1,400 direct checks for Americans making $75,000 or less a year, an extension of $400 federal unemployment benefits, additional help for small businesses and funding for state and local governments. The bill now goes to the Senate, where a vote may come as early as this week. However, the minimum wage increase was dealt a severe blow when the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the provision violated budget rules. This effectively means that Democrats would need to gain the support of at least 10 Republicans to get a minimum wage increase beyond a filibuster.

    Once that package is done, President Biden and Congressional Democrats hope to move to their next big item: infrastructure. During the campaign, Biden proposed a $2 trillion investment in repairing roads, bridges and water systems. Although Biden has said he wants a bipartisan bill, it is far from certain that Senate Republicans will support a package of that size. Democrats may decide to pass the bill without GOP support, like the COVID package. But doing so would likely inflame tensions between the parties even further, making progress on a host of other issues – from health care to immigration – even more difficult.

    Meanwhile, partisan fighting has impeded process on confirming Biden’s cabinet. The Senate is moving far more slowly on confirming the 46th President’s nominees than it did for his predecessors, making it hard for federal agencies to get up and running. And at least one of Biden’s choices – Office of Management and Budget Director Neera Tanden – is facing defeat due to past comments she made about Republican lawmakers.

    That said, last week saw Biden’s pick for Interior Secretary move a step closer to conformation. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held two days of confirmation hearings for Interior Secretary-designate Deb Haaland. Following the hearing, Committee Chair Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced he would support her nomination despite his reservations over her views on fossil fuels, which means she is almost certainly going to be confirmed, even if few or no Republicans support her. Once Haaland is confirmed, she had a lengthy do-to list, including addressing the previous administrations effort to undermine NEPA as well as their last-minute move to alter Sec 106 regulations.

    The partisan tensions come as the country continues to struggle with the pandemic and resulting economic fallout. Although additional money for small businesses in the COVID relief bill will help, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has had some unintended consequences, especially for small firms.

    One example, which a number of ACRA members have raised, is about how taking PPP loans affects how much firms can be paid on federal government contracts. The Defense Department has interpreted a provision in federal procurement rules to mean that PPP recipients whose loans are forgiven must credit the value of the loan back to the government when they contract with federal agencies. This could force many small firms to choose between accepting PPP loans and seeking government contracts.

    As ACRA has expressed to Capitol Hill, “At a time when millions of small businesses are struggling to make payroll and keep employees on the job, the requirement to credit forgiving PPP loans back to the government will not only create a disincentive for businesses to seek government contracts, which will deprive many agencies of talent and even slow down projects; it will also disproportionately impact minority- and women-owned firms.”

    ACRA and other industry organizations are working to educate lawmakers about the issue and seek a solution. While this is the kind of issue that doesn’t make it to the front pages, it’s just one example of how federal policies impact CRM firms, and how ACRA advocates for member firms when issues come to their attention.

    It also shows why ACRA member firms need to need to engage with their elected representatives. After all, no matter how partisan Washington gets, Democratic and Republicans elected officials alike listen to their constituents.

  • 02/26/2021 2:58 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    ACRA is a co-sponsor for the upcoming 8th National Forum on Historic Preservation Policy. Held virtually on April 16 and 17, attendance is limited to 130 people. Register today to be a part of this important discussion of Preservation and the 21st-century American city here.

    Unique among professional and academic conferences, fully half of each of the four sessions will be devoted to discussion among presenters and audience. To facilitate this, attendance will be limited to 130 registrants and each will receive an electronic copy of all papers several weeks in advance of the Forum.

    A final copy of the agenda is available here.

  • 02/25/2021 4:37 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Join the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in honoring outstanding historic preservation efforts combined with affordable housing and community revitalization successes. The ACHP/HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation was created to encourage agencies, developers, and organizations to nominate projects or activities that advance the goals of historic preservation while providing affordable housing and/or expanded economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

    Projects or activities must have been completed or have made substantial achievements within the last three years and have done the following:

    • Promoted the use of historic buildings for affordable housing, community development, and/or expanded economic opportunities
    • Included HUD funds or financing
    • Met preservation guidelines
    • Contributed to local community revitalization efforts

    Nominations for the 2021 cycle are due by 11:59 p.m. PST on April 16, 2021.

    Nomination details can be viewed at HUD’s joint award website. Questions may be addressed to helpdesk@huduser.gov.

  • 02/22/2021 4:37 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Do you have a topic that you think would be perfect for a presentation to fellow CRMers? Is there a discussion the industry should be having? If so, we want to hear from you!

    The Call for Sessions for the 2021 ACRA Conference in Old Town Alexandria is open!

    This year’s conference theme — A Watershed Year: Navigating Change in the CRM Industry — focuses on how the past few years have brought historic changes to not just ACRA, but to the CRM industry overall and the nation at large. From navigating new ways of conducting business in the face of COVID-19 to addressing long-standing diversity issues in the industry, now is the time for CRM firms to come together to bring lasting positive change.

    Consider submitting a session proposal for our 2021 event. Sessions can:

    • Reflect a variety of CRM topics, from business operations to best practices and beyond;
    • Involve an individual speaker, a suite of presenters, or a panel;
    • Revolve around a presentation or an interactive activity;
    • Last between 45 minutes and two hours, depending on the topic.

    It is through member participation that our conference program can expand each year, bringing new ideas and evoking teamwork as we strive to make our industry stronger. Click here to learn more about the submission requirements, and hurry - proposals are due April 1!

  • 02/19/2021 1:54 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Kim Redman, President/General Manager of ACRA member firm Alpine Archaeological Consultants, has been elected Treasurer-Elect of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA). Kim is ACRA's Immediate Past President and current Nominating Committee chair. She and other Alpine employees have been integral to ACRA's operations, and we wish her luck in taking on this new role!

    Kim will become the SAA Treasurer in 2022 at the organization's annual meeting. Please join us in honoring Kim by adding your congratulations in the comments below!

  • 02/18/2021 2:09 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The 2021 Vernacular Architecture Forum annual on-site meeting scheduled for San Antonio, Texas, May 19-23, has been postponed to 2022 due to the Covid-19 health emergency. VAF is reissuing a Call for Papers to be presented remotely at a virtual conference to be held May 21 and May 22, 2021. Papers, posters, and other presentations may address topics relating to vernacular and everyday buildings, sites, or cultural landscapes worldwide and how people use these sites. Submissions on all relevant topics are welcome.

    Applicants whose proposals are selected will receive timely instructions regarding how to prepare recordings for the conference. Presentations will be pre-recorded but will not be archived. Presenters should plan to attend live for introductions and questions during the actual days of the conference. Presenters must be VAF members at the time of the conference.

    More information on the call for papers, presentations, and posters is available here.

  • 02/17/2021 5:39 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    27th Annual ACRA Conference
    September 8-12, 2021
    Alexandria, VA

    Stay tuned to the ACRAsphere for further details on sessions, registration, and more!

  • 02/16/2021 2:30 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    Capitol Hill turned its attention from the 46th President back to the 45th President last week as the Senate held the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump for his role in the Jan 6th insurrection.

    Although the trial ended Saturday with Trump’s acquittal on a 57-43 vote (10 shy of the two-thirds needed for conviction), the partisan divisions laid bare by the insurrection and impeachment are not likely to go away. This creates both challenges and opportunities for President Biden. On one hand, Biden’s stated commitment to unity and bipartisanship has been well-received by the public, keeping his approval ratings at a fairly high level. On the other hand, his desire to advance an aggressive agenda may compel him to act in partisan ways, belying his pledges for comity.

    Nowhere is this more apparent than on his efforts to enact a $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan. Even as Biden has maintained he wants a bipartisan package, Congressional Democrats are moving ahead with plans to pass legislation without the support of Republicans. In part, Democrats are emboldened by public support of Biden’s relief plan.

    Two weeks ago, the House and Senate passed budget blueprints without a single Republican vote through a process known as “reconciliation” that enabled Democrats to avoid a Senate filibuster. Those votes gave various Congressional committees instructions to assemble the actual COVID relief legislation. House Democrats hope to pass the bill as early as this week, with the Senate to follow. Although the details remain to be worked out, the bill probably will include $1400 stimulus checks to most individuals, expanded jobless benefits through September, and funding for COVID vaccination and testing. The bill also is expected to include $350 billion in emergency relief for state, local and tribal governments. Past experience shows that when states have to tighten their belts, SHPOs wind up in the crosshairs, which is why ACRA supports including funding for state and tribal governments in the bill.

    Although no Republicans voted for the Democrats’ blueprint, a group of 10 Senate Republicans have floated a much smaller $600 billion plan. President Biden invited the group to the White House to discuss it two weeks ago in what one participant described as a “a substantive and productive discussion.” But with neither side looking to budge significantly from their positions, and Congressional Democrats moving at full speed to pass their bill, it looks like partisanship will win again.

    Once the COVID package is done, President Biden has indicated he wants to move quickly onto what could be an even larger package addressing infrastructure and climate. During the 2020 campaign, Biden released his “Build Back Better” proposal, which sought to spend upwards of $2 trillion to repair and improve the nation’s infrastructure, promote clean energy and address environmental racism, all while creating jobs for the struggling economy.

    Infrastructure has traditionally been a bipartisan issue (both red states and blue states have potholes, after all). But Biden’s plan could still face partisan headwinds. For one thing, the plan’s expected focus on climate and promotion of renewable energy at the expense of fossil fuels could rankle Republicans (and even some Democrats), especially from coal- and oil-producing states. Second, the price tag of such a plan – especially if Congress passes the $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan – will prompt many Republicans to balk.

    That said, if Biden and Democrats are willing to pass such a bill without Republican support, they may have the votes to do so (and under the Senate’s arcane rules, they will have a chance to bypass a filibuster). Once again, President Biden will face a choice: see his big plans come to fruition, or maintain his commitment to bring Republicans and Democrats together. It is unlikely he can do both.

    While it’s unlikely the infrastructure bill will mention CRM, new investments in infrastructure will trigger more Section 106 reviews, which will increase demand for CRM services. That’s good news for ACRA members – as long as the bill does not short-circuit the Section 106 process in the name of regulatory “streamlining.” Reminding policymakers of the benefits of Section 106 remains a top priority for ACRA.

    ACRA also is working to make sure that the Department of the Interior, which oversees historic preservation and cultural resources programs, has the leadership and policies in place to ensure the country balances development with preservation. Last week, ACRA wrote to the Senate in support of the nomination of Deb Haaland as Secretary of Interior. Haaland, who currently serves in the U.S. House, would be the first Native American Cabinet member in American history.

    However, some Republicans have expressed opposition to her nomination because of her support of the Biden administration’s moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on public lands and other progressive positions she has taken in the past. She is expected to be confirmed, but the debate over public lands policies underscores the partisan disagreements Biden faces.

    Assuming she is confirmed, Haaland will take charge of a department beset by low morale and a depleted workforce. As just one devastating example, according to The Hill newspaper, “following a July 2019 announcement that the Department of the Interior would uproot the majority of Bureau of Land Management employees, just 41 agreed to relocate, while a staggering 287 either retired or left the agency before the end of 2020.” Overall, BLM lost 87 percent of its Washington-based staff due to the previous administration’s relocation plan.

    Haaland will also have to address policy moves made in the waning days of the Trump administration, including a Secretarial Order issued in December that will make it harder for the department and its partners to conduct Section 106 reviews. ACRA has written to Haaland, urging her to rescind the policy change, which ACRA says “imperils our ability to protect historic and cultural resources.”

    Regardless of the partisan passions on display in Washington, policymakers have a long to-do list of issues to address – the economy, the pandemic, climate, racial equity, infrastructure, and many, many more. Most, if not all, affect CRM directly or indirectly, which is why staying engaged in the advocacy process is so important. To learn more about how you can get involved in advocating for the industry, click here.

  • 02/11/2021 4:49 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    ACRA has written to incoming Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to urge her to rescind a Secretarial Order issued at the end of the Trump administration that “imperils our ability to protect historic and cultural resources.”

    In December, then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt issued Secretarial Order 3389, Coordinating and Clarifying National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 Reviews. Secretarial Orders are memoranda issued by an Interior Secretary that sub-agencies of the Department, like the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service, are required to follow. However, they do not have the force of law, and can be modified or rescinded by a future Secretary.

    ACRA’s letter raises a number of concerns about the impact of Order 3389 on the Section 106 process, including:

    • The Order establishes arbitrary time limits on Section 106 processes without regard to the complexity of individual projects.
    • The Order discourages alternative mitigation measures as a tool to balance preservation and development needs.
    • The Order’s requirement that BLM review its Nationwide Programmatic Agreement will cause delays as individual agreements may need to be renegotiated to bring them into compliance and projects covered by the Programmatic Agreement will require project-specific Section 106 consultations which will slow project implementation.

    As is written in the letter, "while ACRA members agree that the Section 106 process can always be improved upon, we are concerned that Order 3386 makes changes to the process that will harm the process, delaying projects, increasing costs and threating our ability to preserve and protect cultural assets."

    Haaland is currently President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior. The Senate is expected to confirm her later this month, at which point she will have the authority to rescind or modify the Order.

    To read ACRA’s letter, click here.

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