SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Governor Pat McCrory and former Salisbury Mayor and current Secretary of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz announced a plan on Wednesday for economic development programs designed to rehabilitate buildings all across North Carolina.
"I've been involved personally with it with a commercial building downtown for 30 years," Kluttz said, referring to the Kluttz Building on the square in downtown Salisbury. "Working with developers who made it very clear that the numbers don't work in historic buildings without a tax credit."
The governor said his budget will include matching grant funds for the Main Street Solutions Fund which funds rehabilitation efforts in smaller North Carolina towns. He also announced his support for legislation to replace the sun setting Historic Tax Credit.
Governor McCrory held his announcement in front of the former Pickett Cotton Mill that is soon to be the new home of BuzziSpace, a Belgium company known for its high-quality, green office furniture.
"Investing in North Carolina historic structures preserves our history and creates jobs. These programs make cultural and economic sense," said Governor McCrory. "Old, abandoned mills and factories are becoming housing and business spaces that are sparking economic revitalization in towns and cities across our state. Historic revitalization means jobs, economic development and a rebirth of many downtowns. Companies are relocating to these spaces from across this great nation and from around the world."
According to a press release, North Carolina is a leader in preserving its historic buildings and an example for many other states when they're developing their own historic preservation investment programs. Since 1976, historic preservation incentives provided by the state and federal governments have helped bring in over $1.7 billion in private investment to the state while preserving North Carolina's priceless historic character.
"What it covers is literally hundreds upon, it could be thousands of buildings that are in towns from Wadesboro to High Point, to Goldsboro to Rocky Mount to New Bern, that are vital for us to keep," McCrory said. "And many of these buildings are blight in their communities at this point in time, but there's a chance for renewal."
"I am so proud of Governor McCrory's decision to promote the rehabilitation of historic buildings for proven economic development and job creation," said Secretary Susan Kluttz of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. "As a former mayor, he is extremely aware of the value of the re-use of empty and underused historic buildings and the positive impact their development has on communities, including saving fragile neighborhoods, revitalizing downtowns and improving public safety. This investment program is critical for rebuilding cities and towns in North Carolina and supporting the 'Carolina Comeback' that the governor has promised."
The Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program would be administered by the State Historic Preservation Office, a part of the Department of Cultural Resources.
During her remarks Kluttz made frequent mention of how old buildings in Salisbury had been redeveloped. Governor McCrory pointed out that the current Salisbury City Hall was once a post office.
"Thank goodness they didn't tear that building down," McCrory said.
The Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program is a demand-driven model in line with the governor's Economic Development Board's North Carolina Jobs Plan. The plan seeks to develop programs that provide local communities with the opportunity to thrive. Helping to invest in critical infrastructure to encourage economic growth is key to the Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program that supports the re-use of historic industrial-age infrastructure to be in line with the demands of a new economy.
The governor said his budget will include $500,000 for the Main Street Solutions Fund, a matching grant program established in 2009 to rehabilitate buildings in smaller towns.
The Main Street Solutions Fund and the Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program strive to spur a renaissance in cities and towns reinventing themselves after the loss of long-time industries such as tobacco and manufacturing.
"There are few activities that are as job intensive and return more money to local communities than historic rehabilitation," says Myrick Howard, president of Preservation North Carolina. "There is still much work to do, however, especially in smaller towns and distressed areas. We have high hopes for this new program." Preservation North Carolina promotes and protects the buildings and landscapes of North Carolina's diverse heritage.
"When one of these buildings is rehabilitated, it often has a ripple effect throughout a neighborhood and across a community, spurring investment in existing infrastructure and promoting infill development," continued Governor McCrory.
Historic rehabilitation projects have taken place in 90 of North Carolina's 100 counties. These programs historically have added jobs, during and post-construction, in North Carolina as empty buildings gain new purposes.