NEWPORT, R.I. — Historic preservation is paying off in a very big way for the state’s economy.

A study commissioned by two preservation groups found that Rhode Island welcomes 9.8 million “heritage” visitors annually, or tourists who want to take a gander at old, historic buildings.

This adds more than $1.4 billion to the state’s economy, and creates 19,000 jobs.

A report like this has never been done. Economist Donovan Rypkema analyzed the preservation sector by looking at heritage tourism and historic tax credits.

Historic neighborhoods are an “investment,” Rypkema says. Every dollar the state invests in one of these tax credited projects generates over ten dollars of economic activity.