The Future of the Minnesota Historic Tax Credit

Devin Martin
Created: April 02, 2021 10:36 PM

(ABC 6 News)- An important tax credit is expiring in a few months, one that will affect how our cities and towns grow in the future. 

It's called the historic tax credit. Many businesses throughout the state have benefitted from it. 

"We take great pride in being able to take these buildings that maybe are being cast off or not being looked at as valuable anymore and providing great value in renovating them that's going to last them for another generation," Mike Benike, Executive V.P. of Benike Construction said. 

The Conley Maass Downs Building in downtown Rochester is home to Bleu Duck Kitchen, Collider Coworking and now soon to be Google. 

This building was the first in Olmsted County to receive funding from the Historic Tax Credit and the purpose? It's an incentive to renovate historic buildings. 

Mike says the tax credit is helping to create jobs. 

"These renovation projects take a lot of labor and if a local contractor or a team of local contractors is selected, that's a lot of local labor hours which turns into jobs," Benike said. 

The University of Minnesota says the Historic Tax Credit has created over 18,000 jobs in Minnesota. And in Rochester, $11.50 is generated for every $1 of tax credit. Meaning for projects like the Conley Maass Downs, the investment paid off. $6.7 million dollars have been generated as of 2018. 

But if the historic tax credit isn't renewed, some people are worried. 

"A lot of these projects will stagnate. Not only will we end up with higher vacancy rates in cities like Rochester and other places all over the state but we'll lose buildings. We all know, not only are these great spaces but they're much better as functional parts of our community than as piles of rubble in a landfill," Heidi Swank, executive director of Rethos said.

Minnesota Senator Carla Nelson is chair of the tax committee. She supports the historic tax credit, but because of the pandemic, she says the tax budget is already tight. 

Think of this as a puzzle. Senator Nelson is trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together.

"My goal will figure out how to continue that tax credit at the same time knowing that we have many of these other pressures to make sure that we have the tax credit on the PPE loans and that we don't tax those unemployment insurance benefits," Sen. Nelson said. 

Jane Bisel with Blue Planet Museum Consulting in Rochester tells ABC 6 NEWS that the historic tax credit is essential for Rochester's future growth. 

She said off-camera with proper historic tax credit funding, the Chateau Cultural Center has the possibility to return to a public theatre. 

The Castle is another space that has benefited from the historic tax credit funding.

Senator Nelson says she hopes the historic tax credit will be renewed in May. 


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