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Local View: Renew tax credits that are saving Minnesota's history

From the column: "The Duluth economy and the Duluth community benefit from the state historic tax credit program."

Signatures from over a century of graduates grace the bell tower in Historic Old Central High School.(Kathleen Murphy / Duluth.com)
Signatures from over a century of graduates grace the bell tower in Historic Old Central High School.(Kathleen Murphy / Duluth.com)
We are part of The Trust Project.

Creating economic growth, good-paying jobs, and community vitality are more important now than ever. In Minnesota, we know the best of every town is local, from main-street businesses to shared history. We need to preserve our tools to revitalize our community landmarks.

Since 2010, the bipartisan-supported Minnesota State Historic Tax Credit has served the state in countless ways. The program has put more than $5 billion into Minnesota’s economy, has created more than 28,460 jobs, and touches 97% of industries. In nonmetro Minnesota, the tax credit has shown large returns, where projects have generated up to $16 for every $1 invested.

In Duluth, state historic tax credits have been used to create jobs and real value.

Slated to open in 2023, the redeveloped Historic Old Central High School will add 122 units of mixed-income housing in downtown Duluth. Not only will this project provide desperately needed housing to Duluth’s core business district, it will preserve an iconic community landmark.

Another significant historical property, the Duluth Armory, plans to use historic tax credits, too, as an important source of funding for its $25 million redevelopment. Fortunately, the Armory project has already secured support for this. The Armory is expected to resume its place at the center of Duluth’s cultural landscape by 2024.

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Beyond these two projects, the Duluth economy and the Duluth community benefit from the state historic tax credit program.

But the program will end this year if the Legislature does not extend it. We are in danger of losing a proven economic-development tool. We could lose the opportunity to rebuild local economies with well-paid jobs. We could lose the visible threads of our communities’ histories.

Simply put, the state’s tax credit program allows communities to preserve historic buildings while revitalizing communities, creating jobs, and setting the foundation for Minnesota to thrive in the future.

Heidi Swank of Mendota Heights, Minnesota, is president of the RevitalizeMN Coalition (revitalizemn.org); Mark Laverty of Robbinsdale, Minnesota, is a developer with Saturday Properties (saturdayproperties.com), which is redeveloping Duluth’s Historic Old Central High School; and Mark Poirier of Duluth is executive director of the Amory Arts and Music Center (dulutharmory.org).

Mark Poirier ED of AAMC 2022.jpg
Mark Poirier
Heidi Swank Headshot.jpeg
Heidi Swank
Mark Laverty.jpg
Mark Laverty

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