Maryland Heritage Areas Authority Provides 55 Grants to Heritage Tourism Sites, Activities, and Organizations Across Maryland.

More than $2.6 million awarded by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority
CROWNSVILLE, MD (July 12, 2010) – Maryland non-profit groups, museums, and governments received 55 matching grants totaling $2,617,146 from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) for heritage tourism projects and activities that expand economic development throughout the state (see full listing). Heritage tourism is “traveling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present,” as defined by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and “includes historic, cultural and natural resources.”

“Targeted investments by Maryland’s Heritage Areas Program promote economic growth and job development in our cities and towns by encouraging more people to visit and stay longer while enjoying Maryland’s unique historic places, natural landscapes, and distinctive cultural traditions,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “I congratulate our eleven Certified Heritage Areas and their heritage tourism partners on these well-deserved awards. Their efforts boost Maryland’s economy, preserve our state’s valuable legacy and contribute to a Smart, Green and Growing Maryland.”

Since its creation in 1996, the MHAA has enjoyed steady growth, enthusiastic private and public support and a record of achievement. This past March, the MHAA released its strategic plan for 2010-2020, entitled “Charting A Sustainable Course for the Next Decade: 2010 – 2020,” to assist the program in meeting the challenge of managing a mature system of state Heritage Areas and sustaining that system over time. This plan lays out goals for the program and its management and specifies timelines and measurements for evaluating its implementation.

Over $10.6 million dollars has been invested into 231 projects throughout Maryland’s 11 certified Heritage Areas under the O’Malley-Brown Administration. Even in tough fiscal times, Governor O’Malley included full funding for the heritage areas program in his FY 2011 budget. He successfully defended this important program in the General Assembly session, underscoring the importance of heritage tourism as an economic engine and a tool for preserving Maryland’s historical assets.

The Maryland Heritage Areas Program helps communities use heritage tourism to strengthen their economies through the protection, promotion and enhancement of local cultural, historical, and natural resources. Heritage Areas are important partners in Maryland’s efforts to encourage smart and sustainable growth by preserving our state’s treasured landscapes and investing in heritage tourism destinations that encourage more visitors to these communities.

The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority is an independent unit in the Executive Branch of government administered by the Maryland Department of Planning. MHAA was formed to help strengthen and revitalize communities by combining heritage tourism and small business development with historic preservation, conservation of cultural traditions, natural resource protection, recreation, and marketing of Maryland’s unique history, culture, and landscapes.

Today, 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City have one of the eleven State-certified Heritage Areas within their boundaries. Each of Maryland’s Certified Heritage Areas is defined by a distinct focus or theme that makes that place or region different from other areas in the state. These distinctive places exhibit tangible evidence of the area’s heritage in historic buildings and districts, archaeological sites, cultural traditions, and natural landscapes, as well as resources such as museums, parks, and traditional ways of life as revealed in food, music, and art. The “special flavor” of each Heritage Area attracts not only out-of-state visitors, but locals who want to learn more about their heritage and take pride in their community’s unique sense of place. Since its inception in 1996, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority has awarded over $21 million in financial assistance and leveraged approximately $73.5 million in non-state funds for heritage tourism projects and activities statewide.

To learn more about the Maryland Heritage Areas Program and the state’s 11 certified Heritage Areas, please visit
http://mht.maryland.gov/heritageareas_program.html.

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