The power firms in heritage consulting

Engineering News-Record recently released its list of The Top 200 Environmental Firms. Published annually, this year’s list is based on 2011 revenue.

Rank Company Heritage Services Revenue (million)
1 CH2M HILL Ltd. Yes $3,835
2 URS Corp. Yes $3,362
3 Veolia Environnement SA No $3,294
4 Bechtel Corp. No $2,731
5 Tetra Tech Inc. Yes $2,050
6 AECOM Technology Corp Yes $1,768
7 EnergySolutions Inc. No $1,752
8 The Shaw Group Inc. Yes $1,559
9 Fluor Corp. No $1,236
10 Kiewit Corp. No $1,160

Half of the top ten firms on the list provide in-house compliance services for heritage resources. On a similar list of design firms, seven of the top ten firms were in-house providers of heritage services.

Unfortunately, what most people want to know about these firms isn’t available:  how much of their overall revenue comes from their heritage consulting activities. While most of these companies are publically-traded companies and report their financials, the filings are not fine enough to go down to the level of heritage services. Read more…

Preservation raises US property value

May 16, 2012 Leave a comment

A recent article in the Hartford Courant (Connecticut, USA) publicized two studies done by economist and historic preservationist Donovan Rypkema, studying the effects of historic district designation and property values. The first study evaluated the economic benefits of Connecticut’s historic tax credit incentive program, while the second specifically evaluated property values. The conclusion of both studies is that preservation “makes good economic sense” not only creating jobs but increasing property values. Similar results have emerged from additional studies, including one released by the Alabama State Historic Preservation Office in 2002.

The reports concluded that property values within designated historic districts rose faster than neighboring areas or metropolitan averages. The Connecticut study also noted that historic district designation did not, in any of the districts studied, reduce property values – a fact that should relieve the fears of some homeowners worried that potential restrictions may make it more challenging for them to sell their home. In reality, these studies showed that the restrictions sometimes instituted by local historic commissions are in fact the key factor in the rise in value noting, “character of the neighborhood is important, and the assurance that character will be maintained has an economic value.” Read more…

UK archaeology forecast shows mixed outlook

Landward Research Ltd recently completed a report on the State of the Archaeological Market in the UK. There is both good news and bad news for the state of professional archaeology. Job losses have stabilized since the the recession but they are still down 800 positions (5,900) from pre-crash levels (6,700), though these numbers do not take into account the potential growth in jobs had the recession not occurred. Looking at the Profiling the Profession reports (provided at the Landward Website) between 2002-03 and 2007-08, employment increased by 20 percent. Had that trend continued, there would currently be around 8000 archaeology jobs in the UK. This puts the actual losses at closer to 2,000 jobs. This larger number probably explains the tough competition among recent graduates and veterans for jobs, there are five years of students who have not been able to obtain jobs except from positions created by the retirement of archaeologists.

When asked if the employment situation will improve, the report shows that the opinions expressed by commercial companies and other organizations are split. Read more…

Heritage tourism increasing in the Navajo Nation

A photograph taken of Monument Valley, Navajo ...

Monument Valley, Navajo Nation.

Heritage tourism is on the increase, states a Native American Times article (3 April 2012) by Susan Montoya Bryan. Based on a report commissioned by the Navajo Nation from Northern Arizona University, data show that some 600,000 visitors made nearly $113 million in direct purchases on the reservation in 2011. That represents a 32 percent increase in tourism spending since 2002.

Surprisingly, this increase occured over the same period when U.S. gasoline prices rose from approximately $1.80 to $3.90 a gallon. The Navajo Nation, a soverign nation since 1868, is the largest Native American reservation in the United States. It covers 27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Traveling to the Nation by automobile, and there are few other options for visitors, is a significant trip from almost anywhere. However, the article states that U.S. visitors to the Nation were actually down in the period since 2002. It was non-U.S. visitors, primarily from Germany and France, that were up more than 11 percent and responsible for the increase.

Heritage-only firms must market

April 13, 2012 1 comment

Its list time in Canada, when many of the provincial lists of qualified archaeological firms get updated. Recent articles in Heritage Business Journal have noted a shift in market share away from heritage-only firms. In the draft of the current list of qualified Alberta archaeological consultants there are 27 companies listed: 19 of these were heritage-only firms and 8 were multidisciplinary firms. This listing also suggests that multidisciplinary firms have more staff (average of 2.8 vs. 1.8 for the heritage-only firms). There are three caveats here. First, I sorted the firms on my knowledge of what they do–they are not listed that way. Second, while more heritage-only firms have a single archaeologist, the number of staff on the list is not very consistent. Third, it should be noted that not all the firms on the list are actually in Alberta, in case readers are wondering how a single province supports 27 archaeology firms.

Archaeology, like many environmental services, is a requirement for some development approvals. Developers who do not know how to find an archaeologist are given the list of qualified firms. My hunch is that lists such as the Alberta Consultant’s List form the entire marketing plan for many small heritage-only firms. This raises the question of whether the reported switch to multidisciplinary firms is due to a customer desire for one stop shopping, or whether it is because multidisciplinary firms out-market and out-brand heritage only firms. Read more…

UK tax code change could hurt historic preservation

The recently announced Chancellor’s Budget in the UK includes a proposal to increase the VAT from 0 to 20 percent for the alteration and maintenance of listed buildings. This will put a heavy financial burden on those that own or maintain historic listed buildings.

While not every building alteration on a listed building requires specialized historical preservation skills, many projects do  for at least some aspects. An increase of 20 percent for project costs may cause some repair projects to be postponed or shelved. This in turn may have a knock-on effect for those employed in the historic preservation sector. It may also hurt other sectors such as heritage and museum management. Sites and museums would see their maintenance costs increase forcing them to reallocate funds from other areas of their budgets. Though these results are hypothetical, and it is unknown at the moment what problems the tax increase might bring, the Council for British Archaeology is “urging its members to make their views on this known and also to sign the online petition.”

Full details can be found at the HM Revenue & Customs website and consultation on the proposed changes has been put up by the CBA (p. 23), which is open until 4 May 2012.

Global contributors wanted!

In the short two months that Heritage Business Journal has been available, we have had readers from 23 countries:  Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Kenya, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States. If you are a reader in one of these countries, thank you! We are pleased to be a center for information sharing and hope you found what you read valuable. However, we also want to know what is going on with the heritage industry in your country! If you have a passion for the business side of the heritage industry and don’t mind contributing a post at least once a month, we would love to have you join Heritage Business Journal as a correspondent or analyst. Share what you know with other readers in your country and around the globe. Interested? Just fill out our form, it’s at the bottom of the page, and I’ll personally get back to you.

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