The president and C-E-O of Dubuque’s Chamber of Commerce says Dubuque’s downtown is undergoing an “explosion of interest and activity” partly because of state tax credits for historic preservation efforts. Stewart Sandstrom says Dubuque has benefited from six historic tax credit projects. The projects have led to the creation of over two-hundred “permanent” jobs in Dubuque’s downtown, according to Sandstrom.
For example, Dubuque Bank and Trust was ready to buy land to build an operations center on the outskirts of Dubuque but instead renovated existing buildings in the historic downtown area of Dubuque because of those tax credits. The Iowa Chamber Alliance which represents the 17 largest chambers of commerce in Iowa is pressing state legislators to dramatically increase the amount of tax credits available for historic preservation.
“Community leaders need these tax credits to help stimulate downtown business, cultural growth and renovation,” Sandstrom says. State lawmakers established the historic preservation tax credit in 2001, and in each of the following years two-point-four million dollars in tax credits have been granted to projects in historic neighborhoods around the state.
The renovated sites are generating over four-million dollars in new property taxes for cities and counties, according to Sandstrom. In addition, Sandstrom says by putting just one empty storefront on Dubuque’s mainstreet back into service is a more than four-hundred-thousand dollar financial boost to the local economy.
Sandstrom says projects around the state are in jeopardy because there aren’t enough historic preservation tax credits to go around. He points to one such project in Dubuque. A building that was once on the National Historic Register may be demolished unless the amount of state tax credits offered for renovating the building are increased.
The Iowa Chamber Alliance wants legislators to set aside 20 million dollars in tax credits. Just under two-and-a-half million is being set aside today.