Preservation ABCs: E is for Economics

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.


E is for Economics

The corner of State Street and Main Street in Montpelier, VT.

Historic preservation is good for the economic health of your town, city, state and country; the two fields are inherently related. Investing in existing buildings in cohesive commercial cores brings people, dollars and life to your historic downtowns and city centers. Here the environment is often human scale and has grown organically, meaning that people can live comfortably in such locations. When people are able to shop, work, live and play in a central location, quality of life improves and happiness improves. Over the decades, historic buildings and downtowns have been neglected, forgotten and eventually reinvigorated. Interest in reinventing the existing built environment continues to grow as people find value in the well built historic buildings and locations.

Why does historic preservation help the economy? Many of the reasons relate to the sustainability of working within the built environment, and the fact that historic preservation is sustainable development. Donovan Rypkema, of Place Economics, speaks best to this subject: read one of his presentations here.

In brief, historic preservation is good for your economy because it brings businesses to your community and creates cultural and economic life. Historic preservation work offers tax credits. Historic preservation is sustainable, and thus, a good financial, economic decision. Historic preservation creates jobs. Historic preservation creates heritage tourism, which brings revenue to your community. Here’s a brief fact sheet from the Georgia Trust. And here are economic studies provided by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

This topic can and should continue in greater depth, but it’s important to know that historic preservation is entirely related to economics, and therefore applicable to all of us. It’s good for you and your community.

Preservation works. Preservation makes cents (pun intended). Preservation is good for your economy.