In 1998 Missouri enacted the Missouri Historic Tax Credit program, which turned out to be substantially beneficial for job growth, private investment, and broadening state and local tax bases in Missouri. Soon after several other states recognized the program’s benefits and adopted Missouri’s program into their own newly created State Historic Tax programs. Iowa created its Historic Preservation and Cultural and Entertainment District (HPCED) tax credit program in 2000 to strongly reflect Missouri’s program. Since then, it has worked for Iowa in developing heritage tourism, espousing an inherently “green” mindset, and, oh yeah, creating lots of jobs. In 2009, following IBM’s decision to open a location in Dubuque, IA (and in the process create 1,300 jobs) Gronen Restoration’s Resource Development Director had this to say in regards to IBM’s decision:
IBM officials stated that they chose Dubuque, over hundreds of other locations nationwide, due to our community’s public/private partnerships and its “sense of place.” Every building and area of town they pointed to as a reason for coming were developed using the State Historic Tax Credit program, or were developed on the heels of catalytic projects that had used the program. It is safe to say that IBM would not have chosen Dubuque had it not been for this tax credit program.*
Hundreds and hundreds of similar stories can be told about Missouri’s Historic Tax Program simply by inserting [Your Missouri town of choice] for “Dubuque,” and inserting [X Company] for “IBM.” You could fill volumes of books with the redevelopment success stories in Missouri, and even more with potential or pending redevelopments, that utilize the Missouri Historic Tax Credit. The way in which Missouri’s and Iowa’s programs reflect one another in their successes is not at all surprising. The way in which their elected officials choose to protect the programs given this success, however, is startling. And if you live in Missouri, it’s outraging.
Iowa has increased its cap on the historic tax credit program in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Missouri Legislators reduced the cap on our state historic tax program in 2009, and propose to do so again in 2013. Along with this reduction is the reduction or possible elimination of the “sense of place,” and much-needed growth in jobs, investment, and tax base that gives Missouri a competitive edge to its surrounding neighbors.
Here is a project-in-progress using the Historic Tax Credit in Dubuque. Chances are you can identify a similar building in your community, whether it has already been developed, or sits vacant, waiting to once again serve as an economic asset.
*Data and quote from Iowa Department of Revenue Report, March 2009