Minnesota is so devoted to preserving its history that the Historical Society is nine years older than the state itself. It's fitting that this state would use its tax code to encourage the preservation and reuse of historic buildings.
But that didn't happen until 2010, 34 years after the federal government made a 20 percent tax credit available to private developers who revive moribund property with historic significance. The state matched the federal credit with a 20 percent credit of its own.
The result has exceeded expectations. In 2009, the state had only four federally approved historic preservation projects in its pipeline, said David Kelliher of the Minnesota Historical Society. In the year ending on June 30, 2012, 16 projects were approved that will generate $559 million in economic impact and produce 3,500 jobs, according to an analysis by University of Minnesota Extension's Center for Community Vitality. The state's tax credits for those projects is expected to eventually deprive the treasury of $70 million. That gives the state an $8 economic return for every $1 it forgoes in taxes.
Clearly, this tax credit is working, and ought to stay on the books. But under current law it's scheduled to expire in 2015 -- a date that's just around the corner in the extended time frame that major redevelopment projects typically require. The 2013 Legislature will do the state's history buffs -- and its economy -- a good turn if it accedes to the Historical Society's request to give this credit at least six more years of life.