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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 - 12:31pm

Historic Preservation's Economic Boon

Historic preservation brings in jobs and tax revenue to communities across the state, according to a new report. It has prompted the Department of Natural Resources to revive efforts to demonstrate the value of history.
The study by an independent research company says over the last decade, the restoration of old buildings has generated more than 10-thousand jobs and more than 420-million dollars in income.

It says historic preservation draws heritage tourists who spend more than 6-billion dollars and fuel more than 117-thousand jobs.
Dave Crass, who heads the state’s historic preservation division, says not enough people, or lawmakers, understand the value of safeguarding history.

“Frankly we haven’t been real good about telling that story and letting the policymakers know what an important role historic preservation plays in our economic life.”

The economic success is thanks in part to state and federal incentives that give generous tax breaks to developers and homeowners who restore old properties.

Crass says developers can get 20 percent off taxes, while homeowners can get a 25 percent tax cut and the chance to freeze tax assessments for eight years.

“These are tremendous economic development tools though because developers can leverage relatively small investments into pretty big projects.”

Those incentives could be at risk as state lawmakers struggle to fill a billion-dollar budget hole.
Crass says he hopes the report informs lawmakers trying to prioritize state spending.

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