Maryland Heritage Areas Authority Provides 51 Grants to Heritage Tourism Sites, Activities, and Organizations Across Maryland

CROWNSVILLE, MD (July 11, 2011) – Fifty-one matching grants totaling $2,298,000 were awarded to Maryland non-profits – including museums, tourism sites, historic preservation, natural resources and educational organizations, as well as local jurisdictions – by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA). These grant funds support heritage tourism projects and activities that expand economic development and tourism-related job creation throughout the state (see full listing in the full release).

MHAA oversees Maryland’s system of 12 locally-administered, State-certified Heritage Areas. Heritage Areas are places to experience – see, hear and even taste – the authentic heritage of Maryland in a unique way that cannot be experienced anywhere else. Stories of the people, the land and the waters of Maryland are told in these distinctive places.

“Visitors to Maryland spent over $13 billion each of the last two years, helping to create and save over 134,000 jobs across the state,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “The Maryland Heritage Area Program’s targeted investments preserve and enhance the distinctive natural areas, rich culture traditions, and historic sites that so many of our visitors come to enjoy. I congratulate Maryland’s 12 Certified Heritage Areas and their heritage tourism partners on these awards that will develop and promote heritage sites and activities, support heritage tourism businesses and organizations across our state, and contribute to a Smart, Green and Growing Maryland.”

In Heritage Areas non-profits, governments, businesses and individuals form partnerships to preserve the best of Maryland’s historic sites and towns, unspoiled natural landscapes and enduring traditions. These tangible links to both place and the past encourage residents to recognize they have a special piece of the American story to treasure and share with others, and that in doing so they create more livable and economically sustainable communities.

MHAA has invested over $12.8 million dollars into 282 projects throughout Maryland’s 12 certified Heritage Areas under the O’Malley-Brown Administration. Even in tough fiscal times, Governor O’Malley has supported funding for this important program knowing that heritage tourism is a proven economic engine and a tool for preserving Maryland’s irreplaceable cultural, historic, and natural legacy.

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, 22 Maryland counties and Baltimore City have a State-certified Heritage Area 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, museums, parks, and natural landscapes, as well as traditional ways of life 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 approximately $24 million in financial assistance and leveraged over $75.7 million in non-state funds for heritage tourism projects and activities statewide.

Click here to learn more about the Maryland Heritage Areas Program and the State’s 12 certified Heritage Areas.

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