Written by Pat Lally
When Emily Post penned her first etiquette book in 1922, she offered a guide to appropriate anniversary gifts by year. This year we’re celebrating the National Trust Community Investment Corporation’s (NTCIC) decade-long effort to reinvest in America’s historic neighborhoods and my work in Congress has been taken to a whole new level as a result. Since NTCIC was established in 2000 as a for-profit subsidiary of the National Trust, it has brought more than $330 million to the rehabilitation of over 60 commercial buildings nationwide by partnering with developers of historic buildings to invest equity in a rehabilitation project so that it may be receive federal tax credits. Basically, NTCIC’s leg up “makes the numbers work” for many worthy historic rehabilitation projects that otherwise would not go forward.
These historic rehabilitation projects are the keystones to our country’s heritage – once abandoned structures that used to be lively theaters, bustling department stores, and productive mills -- transformed through NTCIC into 21st Century icons of economic development and job creation by saving our past.
Tin, by the way, is Mrs. Post’s suggestion for a 10th anniversary gift. I think it’s appropriate that we should mark NTCIC’s ten years with an historic building material used to roof countless numbers of historic buildings throughout the county. I will send up a tin of cookies this afternoon.
But why is NTCIC’s work so important to the National Trust’s legislative agenda in Congress?
Well, let’s just say that I can go to the Hill and lobby for important historic preservation programs and initiatives all day, but without the practical information, expertise, and industry support that a practitioner such as NTCIC provides, my effectiveness is limited. Congress moves bills where there are two critical ingredients: 1) information that warrants a federal response to a compelling national need; and 2) vocal advocacy from constituents, business leaders, and industry representatives. NTCIC provides so much of our public policy efforts with the user-based on-the-ground knowledge and industry advocacy we need to be successful. Its focus is on projects that have a high economic impact on the surrounding community and its daily collaboration with tax credit financiers, property owners, developers, nonprofit organizations, and local governments bring an enormously important level of influence to the preservation debate at the national level.
Let me put this value into perspective as it related to a top-tier legislative item for the National Trust, federal and state historic tax credits. NTCIC is the historic tax credit INDUSTRY’S leading advocate for improving and expanding the use of federal and state historic tax credits. I highlight “industry” because – while the National Trust has been enormously successful in attracting support from the mainstream preservation community represented by groups like our statewide and local preservation partners – it had been difficult to cultivate the necessary industry group around historic tax credit legislation. That is until NTCIC stepped in with the tax credit contacts, experts, and users to make a difference. In fact, NTCIC took a fledgling group of tax credit developers we put together around our Community Restoration and Revitalization Act and helped establish the Historic Tax Credit Coalition (HTCC), an expanded group of developers, investors, syndicators, tax accountants, preservation consultants, and lawyers dedicated to amending the federal historic tax credit program.
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