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Economic Gains From Historic Preservation

News-Herald Guest View

August 31, 2018
By Anne Michael , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Several states have done studies to see if the money they invest in historic preservation is a good investment. These states found that not only does preservation pay back the original investment but also it pays back with a profit. They also found that preservation creates jobs because it revitalizes an area by bringing people to it.

The people who are attracted to these states' historic districts are called legacy tourists. They are 71% of all tourists, numbering 181 million people. They spend approximately $1,000 per trip and take 5 trips a year. Other tourists spend approximately $600 and take 3 to 4 trips a year.

A rule of economic development says that in order for a small community to survive it must bring people to it. In June of 2019, Tama will have a historic district that will bring legacy tourists. We need to capitalize on this attraction and bring these folks to downtown Tama. It was mentioned that downtown Tama would seem more alive if "for sale" signs were taken out of empty store windows. It would be even better if those signs were removed because the stores were now occupied by a businesses and no longer for sale. Legacy tourists could acquire another name - customers.

Unlike other communities, Tama need not spend millions to achieve a historic district. It is already here with the Lincoln Highway Bridge, the King Tower, the Native American sign, and the last surviving King Tower cabin. We need only think of ways we can pull these tourists to our Main Street by considering the types of things in which they would be interested. This effort should be a part of all efforts to revitalize downtown Tama.

If someone is trying to make the argument that this will never work in Tama, then that person is wrong, It is already working in Tama.

The King Tower is not yet on the National Register, but its publicity as a historic cafe has meant that its business has improved significantly. Historic preservation will work in Tama because it is already working. We only need to capitalize on the treasure we have, and saving the Lincoln Highway Bridge is a very important component to this part of Tama's possible revitalization. We only need to use our ingenuity, unify, and work toward that goal.

Anne Michael of Tama is leading the effort to develop the city's east side into a National Historic District based upon its Lincoln Highway heritage and associated local points of interest.



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