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Advocates Say Wisconsin's Historic Tax Credits Program is of Huge Importance

Ian Freimuth
Milwaukee City Hall

While several high profile and controversial measures in the Governor’s proposed budget have worked their way through the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, other parts of the budget are still up for debate.

One such issue is a measure that would cap the amount of money available through Wisconsin’s Historic Tax Credits program, which provides incentives for builders and developers to rehabilitate historic buildings.

"It really forces an owner and a contractor and a builder really to do things appropriately that are historically correct and that really can endure," says Milwaukee architect and director of the Historic Preservation Institute, Matt Jarosz.

The capping of the funds would come just a year after the state increased the incentives available. More than $35 million dollars in tax incentives were approved in 2014.

A report, sponsored by the Historic Preservation Institute, was released last week. It indicates the tax incentive program would have a total impact of over $417 million on Wisconsin’s economy by the end of the first year of operations.

"In smaller towns around Wisconsin, this is one of the few programs that a downtown can use to stimulate renewal in their downtowns," says Jarosz. "So it might be one building, maybe a half a million dollar project, but it'll start to sort of catalytically stimulate."