Historic preservation creates jobs. And not only creates jobs, but creates more jobs than new construction. These jobs are higher skilled jobs that pay better. And the jobs are local and can’t be outsourced as well.
When you build new, you assemble a myriad of components that were built with labor completed in factories throughout the world, reducing the amount of labor that has to take place on site. And because it takes less skill for a worker to install these pre-made pieces, such a window, the local jobs tend to be lower paid than an equal cost historic preservation renovation/ restoration project generates.
According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation website, “the reuse of older and historic buildings itself is a powerful tool for job creation and employment retention. Rehabilitation generally uses about 20 percent more labor and, in turn, produces a greater number of jobs than new construction. As compared to new construction, every $1 million spent to rehabilitate a building results in:
- $120,000 more dollars initially remaining in the community;
- Five to nine more construction jobs created;
- An average of 4.7 more new permanent jobs created;
- Household incomes in the community increasing by $107 more than through new construction;
- Retail sales in the community increasing by $142,000 – $34,000 more than through new construction; and
- Real estate companies, lending institutions, service vendors, and restaurants receiving more direct monetary benefits.”
All this goes to show that preservation doesn’t cost–it pays.
I thought this quote from Donovan Rykema summed up why historic preservation projects benefit local economies more than new construction in a very straightforward manner:
“This greater degree of economic impact is a result of labor intensity. As a rule of thumb, new construction is half materials and half labor. Rehabilitation will be sixty to seventy percent labor with the balance being materials. This labor intensity affects a local economy on two levels. First, we buy an HVAC system from Michigan and lumber from Georgia, but we buy the services of the plumber, the electrician, and the carpenter from across the street. Further, once we install the sink, the sink doesn’t spend any more money. But the plumber gets a hair cut, buys groceries, joins the YMCA – each recirculating that paycheck within the community. That is what makes a sustainable local economy.”
As summer activities get in the way of full blog posts and other TPI duties, blog posts have become less frequent. In an effort to provide interesting information but not interfere with entertaining my children during summer vacation, I plan to introduce a series of quick blog posts that link to interesting information related to historic preservation. This first quick blog connects to an article about innovative ways the City of Phoenix is helping businesses find New Lives for Old Buildings by making many of the common hurdles to renovation easier to navigate. Please read and see if it generates some ideas that can be used locally and present to local officials.