Historic preservation has proven and sustainable economic benefits for communities. Preservation can equal jobs, tax dollars, local business development, tourism revenue, downtown revitalization and a myriad of other contributors to the economy – often times at a greater return on investment than traditional economic development strategies. Many communities in Texas look to the rehabilitation of their historic assets as an integral component in their economic development. Many others still, especially in rural areas, struggle to find the resources, tools and policies to leverage their historic places into economic generators. The recent statewide preservation survey overwhelmingly confirmed community interest in partnering historic preservation with economic development; it ranked as the number one approach (and tool to improve) to accomplishing local preservation.
Issues to Explore
- Communities are not aware of the economic development tools, nor how to use them, for the purposes of historic preservation.
- The economic benefits of preservation are not readily available nor clearly understood for communities to use in their discussions and decision-making.
- Economic development tools and their use for historic preservation are not a “one size fits all” model; applying these tools effectively requires a thoughtful, tailored analysis and approach.
- Historic preservation is not taken seriously as an economic development tool.
- Studies on the economic impact of historic preservation in Texas are outdated; the last comprehensive study was published in 1999.
Public Preservation Survey Says
- Developing a community’s economy ranked in the top three benefits of historic preservation.
- The top challenge to local historic and cultural resources is lack of financial incentives and economic tools for historic preservation.
- Respondents ranked Downtowns/Main Streets as the most threatened historic resource in their communities.
- Economic development incentives or programs that incorporate historic preservation was ranked as the top approach and tool to improve.
The 2010 Preservation Texas Summit dedicated a roundtable, Fundraising for Preservation Projects, on the ways to go about raising funds for many different types of preservation work.
The 2006 Preserve America Summit organized a panel entitled Using Historic Properties as Economic Assets and developed the following recommendations:
- The value and economic impacts of historic preservation need to be more uniformly measured and clearly expressed.
- Increase the synergy between the preservation and development community through removing impediments to the federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit and developing new government incentives to use with historic preservation.