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Two Good Initiatives in Alabama That Make Me Happy

  |   By: Wesley Vaughn  

I’m a terrible cheerleader. When any of my homes — Birmingham, Alabama and the University of Alabama — do something admirable or achieve something great, I pass on the cheering duties to those that do it best. Then, I make sure spread their excitement. I tend to respond to something by analyzing and critiquing that it’s not the most perfect decision or achievement. I’m like Todd Marinovich’s dad for the state.

So, I realized yesterday that I haven’t written a positive piece for this site since its launched. I’ve criticized the state’s limited home rule for municipalities, the state’s refusal to fund local mass transit, and Gov. Bentley’s economic development strategy. I put a lot of time researching the history of those topics and proposing alternatives, but the stances and tone of those pieces had to come across as negative.

And that stinks, because I’m a positive-ish person. My Twitter profile even describes me as “passionately optimistic,” and how could such an authoritative source be wrong?

To prove that I can point out positive things happening in the state and even positive things done by the state government, let me quit stalling and do just that.

State Historic Rehab Tax Credits

The state passed its own historic preservation tax credits in May 2013 that, when paired with federal historic preservation tax credits, will help finance historic rehabilitation projects throughout the state. And my goodness, the $20 million program is already on its way to financing projects in Birmingham, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Anniston.

“The projects are expected to generate more than 2,300 new jobs and add $70 million in new salaries over the next three years, officials project,” AL.com’s  Michael Tomberlin reports.

Some projects are even preparing themselves already to apply for next year’s funding.

After much begging and pleading from local organizations and historic preservationists, this is how we all felt when this went through and when its success has become apparent:

Land Banks!!!

As a land use and vacant property nerd, I needed to fan myself when Gov. Bentley signed 2013 legislation that authorized local governments to establish their own land bank. I’ve explained them more in detail for a AL.com piece last year, but a land bank is a tool for a community and affected neighbors to transform vacant and tax-delinquent properties into opportunities.

Removing blight and returning properties to tax-paying status improves both a city’s quality of life and its financial situation. Birmingham and the state’s other major cities lobbied for the legislation, and Birmingham has been working on establishing its own since the legislation was enacted.

I don’t smile much, but I could be seen doing something to this effect when I first read the news last year:

Follow Wesley on Twitter at @WesleyVaughn

Wesley Vaughn has a master's in city planning. He believes in Birmingham, Nick Saban, and his foreseeable marriage to Anna Kendrick.

The Sweet Home Politics Blog features brief thoughts and responses to news. These posts are too long for Twitter but not long enough for a full-length opinion piece.