State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Signed into Law by Governor Tim Pawlenty Through Jobs Stimulus Bill

For immediate release

Release dated: 
April 2, 2010
Media contacts: 

Bonnie McDonald
Preservation Alliance of Minnesota

Britta Bloomberg
Minnesota Historical Society

State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Signed into Law by Governor Tim Pawlenty Through Jobs Stimulus Bill

Minnesota joins 30 other states in catalyzing job-creation through preservation projects

On April 1 Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law the Minnesota Jobs Stimulus Bill, a diverse array of tax incentives to stimulate job growth in Minnesota. The bill is estimated to create between 12,000 and 20,000 jobs across the state.

A significant feature of the bill is the State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, an incentive to stimulate green job growth, increase local tax base, and revitalize urban and main street communities through reinvestment in historic properties. This provision is estimated to create between 1,500 and 3,000 construction jobs annually if Minnesota is consistent with other state programs.

Minnesota’s state historic preservation tax credit will allow a state income tax credit equal to 20 percent of the cost of rehabilitating a qualifying historic property. The program mirrors the federal rehabilitation tax credit, a provision that has been in place since 1976. Projects are eligible to claim the state credit if they are allowed the federal credit, a program which requires properties to be listed in the National Register of Historic Preservation to qualify. Minnesota currently has 1,600 listings in the National Register representing almost 7,000 individual properties. Projects must be income-producing to use the credit, therefore, homesteaded residential projects are not eligible. Our law also creates innovation in the tax credit market by allowing a developer to choose either a certificated, refundable credit or a grant, which will stimulate nonprofit use of the incentive, and also can be used against the insurance premium tax widening the investor pool. Click here to link to the Jobs Stimulus bill language.

The state historic tax credit program encourages private investment in underutilized historic properties in both urban and rural Minnesota, generating jobs and stimulating local and state economic development. Thirty other states—including Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, Missouri, and Kansas—have similar programs that were incentivizing Minnesota investors to develop in those states. By signing the uncapped state historic rehabilitation tax credit into law today, Governor Pawlenty ensured a competitive advantage for Minnesota in our region.

Historic rehabilitation creates more jobs because it is inherently labor-intensive instead of material intensive. At a time when unemployment among members of the construction trades is at a high level, this measure provides good-paying jobs in areas where employment is desperately needed. Approximately 60-70% of rehabilitation construction costs are labor resulting in thousands of good-paying construction jobs created around the nation through historic rehab projects. In Rhode Island, direct construction employment generated by rehab credit projects was 5,334 over two years. A total of 6,871 jobs and $60 million in tax revenue were created in the first four years of Missouri’s tax credit. In Missouri, the cost of the tax credit was recouped in payroll taxes alone. A March, 2010, study by Rutgers University report found that the federal tax credit program stimulated $85 billion in rehabilitation activity nationally and 1.8 million new jobs over the program’s 36-year lifetime.

State historic tax credits create more jobs per dollar output than either manufacturing or new construction. Realtor and economist Donovan Rypkema recently estimated the potential for job creation in Minnesota based on his study of the highly-successful Missouri state historic preservation tax credit. Rypkema, presenting to the Minnesota Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute, reported that historic rehab projects in our state would create 5.7 more jobs per $1 million in output than manufacturing, 4 more jobs than road construction, and 2 more jobs than new construction.

Research demonstrating the economic impact of state historic preservation tax credit programs shows compelling evidence that such programs more than pay their own way. A 2009 report by the Abell Foundation found that Maryland’s state historic tax credit has returned $8.53 in revenue for each dollar of the state’s tax credit investment and has generated $1.74 billion in total economic activity. Between one-third and one-half of that revenue was returned to the state in payroll and sales taxes prior to the state’s issuance of tax credits. Missouri’s data shows $1.373 billion in total economic activity in the 11 years of their state rehab tax credit, or a four-to-one return on investment to the citizens of Missouri. Research suggesting that similar results could be expected in Minnesota has been compiled by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

“Today is a banner day for the construction, design, and preservation industries in Minnesota,” said Bonnie McDonald, executive director of the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. “With the tax credit in place, we will put skilled people back to work, promote green jobs through the sustainable practice of historic preservation, and reinvest in assets that are truly unique to our communities.”

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and the Minnesota Historical Society have led a broad coalition of local government, business, and community organizations in promoting the state historic rehabilitation tax credit since 2000 when the legislation was first introduced. In 2009, the Alliance and the Minnesota Historical Society joined the Building Jobs Coalition, a diverse group of contractors, building trades, architects, engineers, economic developers, and public officials committed to investment in Minnesota’s design and building industry through strategic legislation and public policy. The historic rehabilitation tax credit was a key provision of the legislative agenda brought to legislators by the Coalition in 2009 and 2010 to put the design and construction industry back to work.

The Alliance, the Society, and the Building Jobs Coalition thank Governor Tim Pawlenty for signing this catalyzing incentive into law. We also want to recognize the significant leadership that led to this bill’s passage from Senators Tom Bakk and Jim Metzen, Representative Ann Lenczewski, Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller. The state historic tax credit will be coordinated through the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office, which will issue application materials in the near future.

About the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota
The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) is the only statewide, private, nonprofit organization advocating for the preservation of Minnesota’s historic resources. The Alliance was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 1981 by Minnesota citizens concerned about the future of the state’s architectural and cultural landmarks. The Alliance has grown into a network representing thousands of voices across the state. Beyond our membership, we collaborate and partner with other organizations and agencies from the national to the local level.

About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. Its essence is to help illuminate the past as a way to shed light on the future. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing.