We spent a couple of very informative hours yesterday on a national conference call, hearing updates from several of the states that have (1) recently enacted new historic tax credit legislation, (2) fended off legislative and/or executive attacks on existing, always very effective, tax credit programs, or (3) expanded exsiting tax credit programs, even in the current dreadful economic climate.

Ohio and Arkansas recently established new historic tax credits programs, and the advocates –  statewide nonprofit heritage preservation organizations, chambers of commerce, developers, neighborhood and Main Street groups and affordable housing providers  – organized effective lobbying campaigns with similar themes.  Jobs creation and new economic activity were, in every state, the key to gaining political support for tax credit programs.  New York State’s recent expansion and improvement of their credit (see previous blog posts) occurred thanks to the Preservation League of NY State’s efforts to map the communities where development/rehabilitation projects would occur (National Register listed or eligible places in mostly distressed census tracts).

A major loft project in the bio-technology corridor in St. Louis, MO that used state and federal tax credits

Michigan has seen an improved and expanded tax credit program, thanks to the Michigan Historic Preservation Network’s “Economic Benefit Report Cards” that have demonstrated the job creation and economic expansion that has been a direct result of tax credit-driven projects across that high-unemployment state.

Strong and broad coalitions in Rhode Island, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and many other states helped to push legislation through that created, defended or expanded tax credit programs.  Active and involved leadership from smart growth groups, sustainability and environmental advocacy organizations, labor and real estate development entities and economic development interests was key to the effective results in each state.

New Jersey has a lot to learn, but many mentors to emulate!  It’s time for a “Heritage Development & Stimulus Summit,” with our partners in NJ and from nearby states with interests in development in our state coming together with opinion and policy leaders and makers to see a historic tax credit passed in 2010. With a Governor-elect on public record as being in favor of a historic tax credit, there is no better time than now!

Contact the NJ Heritage Development Coalition to be a part of a tax credit summit:  info@NJheritagedevelopment.org.