On a previous visit to Mount Airy, Susan Kluttz drummed up support for reinstating historic tax credits that had aided restoration projects statewide – now she’s returning to thank local leaders for helping to achieve that.
Kluttz, who is the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources secretary, is scheduled to speak at Mount Museum of Regional History Monday at 11:30 a.m.
The state Cabinet official’s primary purpose will involve thanking Mount Airy for its efforts in leading to the historic preservation tax credit program being brought back from the dead. It has benefited a number of local projects.
Those credits had expired on Dec. 31, 2014, as part of budget-reform efforts by the N.C. General Assembly. That led Gov. Pat McCrory, a supporter of the program, to join with Secretary Kluttz on a statewide tour aimed at reinstating the credits, which are a major funding source for revitalization efforts.
This included an appearance at a downtown Mount Airy restaurant in March 2015, when the two were greeted by an enthusiastic audience.
In September, McCrory and Kluttz were able to celebrate the return of the historic tax credit program, accomplished with the help of key legislators and an overwhelming grassroots effort throughout the state including in Mount Airy.
The department Kluttz heads oversees projects involving the arts, culture and history.
Her Monday visit here will provide the opportunity for Kluttz to thank the community for its “tremendous help,” as noted in a city government announcement regarding the event at the museum. It will be held on the third floor of the facility located at 301 N. Main St.
The gathering is expected to include Mayor David Rowe and members of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, City Manager Barbara Jones and other local and state elected officials.
Rowe is enthusiastic about the appearance by Kluttz.
“I think it is very good for Mount Airy, especially in light of the tax credits we hope will be available for the Spencer’s project,” the mayor said Tuesday of the former industrial property the city government acquired in 2014 to redevelop.
“She was instrumental in helping to get those restored,” Rowe said of Kluttz, calling her “a great lady who has done a lot of wonderful things for a lot of people.”
Rees played role
Another key individual slated to be in attendance Monday is Gene Rees, a longtime downtown Mount Airy businessman who has developed a number of projects that have given new life to historic properties in the central business district. Rees also is a representative of Downtown Mount Airy Inc.
Rees not only lobbied for the return of tax credits locally in 2015 but elsewhere in the state, saying the credits were essential for both the history and future of North Carolina.
Historic preservation tax credits have helped revitalize areas such as abandoned textile mills and transformed them into businesses, residences and offices.
Rees was quoted in a report by a Raleigh-area television station as saying that tax credit assistance sometimes is required to stimulate revitalization and create “something healthy,” especially with downtown areas that in many cases are distressed and derelict.
He said the state more than makes up for the revenue diverted from tax credits over time.
After speaking at the museum Monday morning, Secretary Kluttz is scheduled to tour a housing project undertaken by Rees.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.