By Tara Kenchen
President & CEO, N.C. Community Development Initiative
April 10, 2015 – For decades, North Carolina has been a regional leader across many sectors. Our work in community and economic development, in particular, has put us at the forefront nationally. Much of our success in this arena can be credited to the willingness of North Carolina’s political leadership to work across party lines to invest public resources wisely.
Our state has a long and powerful tradition of using public policy to stimulate the kinds of public-private partnerships that lead to the creation of good jobs and a widely shared and inclusive prosperity.
Governor McCrory’s recent proposal along with subsequent passage by the N.C. House of Representatives to restore legislation that restores the state’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit lives up to this tradition.
This tax credit, which the General Assembly allowed to expire last year, is a proven financing tool that stimulates economic activity and revitalization, particularly in those urban and rural areas that may otherwise not see much development.
The tax credit is a strategic and highly effective use of public resources. Since 1998, it has leveraged nearly $1.5 billion in private investment and catalyzed the redevelopment of more than 2,400 historic buildings across the state. These projects create good jobs, expand the local tax base and put historic assets back into productive use for our communities.
The Initiative and countless local community developers working across the state to create economic opportunity in persistently poor communities know the value of the Historic Preservation Tax Credit, as they’ve used it to transform vacant and dilapidated mill, warehouse and other old buildings into new, thriving commercial centers.
Without this tax credit, transformative projects like the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, the W.B. Wicker Business Campus in Sanford and the revitalization of the River Arts District in Asheville almost certainly would not have happened.
This tax credit is particularly critical to the financial viability of projects in the communities that we serve, where private capital is lacking but will respond to public incentives like tax credits.
The future of this powerful tool now rests in the hands of the North Carolina Senate. Given its tremendous economic impact and the role that it has played in bringing declining communities back to life, the decision of whether to restore the tax credit should be an easy call for the Senate. We trust that the Senate will join the governor and House in supporting this critical tool.
Reinstating the Historic Preservation Tax Credit will make the hard work of attracting critical private capital to local public-private partnerships a lot easier and a lot more effective.