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.

3 thoughts on “Preservation ABCs: E is for Economics

  1. Karri @ Historic Restorations says:

    Without a doubt historic preservation is good for an economy, and encouraging more historic preservation in one’s local community can help diversify that community’s economy – something that is particularly important in current economic climates (diversified economies fare better through economic instability than specialized economies that focus on just one, or a few, industries).

    The Historic Tax Credit Coalition and Rutgers University released their annual study on the economic impact of the federal historic tax credit (HTC) over the summer. They found that from 1978 to 2011 the HTC has generated more than 2.2 million jobs and $83.7 billion in income. In FY 2011 alone, the HTC generated 64,000 jobs and $2.7 billion in income.

    And that’s just with the projects that utilized the HTC. Imagine, now, how many more historic preservation projects were going on during those times that did not use the HTC and those numbers begin climbing rapidly.

  2. readerareadevelopment says:

    I came across the company Civic Economics and they have done a number of great studies showing the effect of Going Local. If you are in the mood for some economic data check them out:

    It just adds to further the argument that using our local resources such as existing businesses and building stock will out perform giving away the farm to companies that destruct the social fabric of our communities. Now we are armed with enough resources to make more than just an “emotional” argument, but a dollars and sense argument.

    Once it becomes perfectly clear that choosing wasteful land-use practices is not at all cost effective then the preservation pendulum will finally swing back to where it needs to be.

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