Innovations in Heritage Financing

July 30, 2013



Steven Zecher, head of regional development and project finance at the Milken Institute Israel Center, describes the potential structure of a heritage asset district.

Israel possesses one of the highest concentrations of archaeological resources in the world. Cultural heritage drives tourism and development throughout the country. However, the true economic value of these assets has yet to be realized. Funding challenges, ongoing maintenance difficulties and an inability to generate revenue prevent these important resources from being leveraged to provide local and national economic growth.

At the same time, both the public and private sectors wish to support new models that can appropriately value and utilize cultural resources. Learning from best practices in financing economic development, there are mechanisms that can leverage current heritage funding initiatives into a sustainable pool of capital for a variety of project types and capital needs. Heritage asset districts, for example, are a region-based solution for economic development that can create a sustainable balance between preservation, conservation and development.

Building on the Institute's previous work exploring potential models that incentivize investment in cultural heritage, the Lab focused on creating heritage asset districts to utilize the value of cultural heritage to spur economic development in communities throughout Israel while simultaneously ensuring the conservation of priceless national treasures. Lab participants reviewed the potential projects, as well as the structure and organization of the model, and advised on the necessary steps to implement such a model in the near term. Participants included representatives from the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Finance, and the Antiquities and National Parks authorities, as well as experts in economic development and the tourism industry.

Results from the Lab, including recommended next steps for implementation, will be published soon. For information, contact Caitlin MacLean, associate director of Financial Innovations Labs, at