Sixty-three matching grants totaling $2,713,480 were awarded to Maryland non-profits, local jurisdictions and other heritage tourism organizations – including heritage, historic preservation, natural resources and educational organizations– 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 (full listing available here). 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 unique places. Today, 21 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 discrete focus or themes that make that place unique. 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. These tangible links not only draw visitors, but also encourage residents to recognize they have a special piece of the American Story to treasure and share with others.
MHAA has invested over $15.5 million dollars into 334 projects throughout Maryland’s 12 certified Heritage Areas under the O’Malley-Brown Administration. Even in challenging 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 natural, historic and cultural legacy.
The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority is an independent unit in the Executive Branch of government administered by the Maryland Department of Planning. Since its inception in 1996, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority has awarded approximately $26.7 million in financial assistance and leveraged over $84.4 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 12 certified Heritage Areas, please visit http://mht.maryland.gov/heritageareas_program.html.