Chamber of Commerce will manage county’s plan
— OAKLAND — Garrett County took a significant step Tuesday toward to having some of its sites designated part of Maryland’s 12th — and possibly final — certified Heritage Area.
The Maryland Heritage Areas program is intended to help communities use their local culture, history and natural resources to develop a tourism trade that will strengthen their economies.
The entire county was named a recognized heritage area by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority in 2003. But the process to become a certified heritage area is extensive.
On Tuesday the county commission approved the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce as the managing entity for the county’s Heritage Area Maintenance Plan, which is the cornerstone of the process.
The plan is still in development, but will basically lay out the county’s Heritage Area goals and specific steps and strategies for reaching them.
An advisory group made up of representatives from several county agencies has been working for more than a year, with the aid of a consultant, on the early phases of the process.
In Garrett County, the Heritage Area will include not only historical sites, but also sites like Spruce Forest Artisan Village that are important culturally, according to Peggy Jamison, a member of the group.
“This is a discussion of the sites and what we could do to link them, improve them, add to them,” Jamison told the commission. “The plan is a working plan.”
Canal Place in Allegany County is one of just 11 certified heritage areas in the state.
The MHAA has awarded more than $21 million in financial assistance and leveraged approximately $73.5 million in non-state funds for heritage projects statewide since it was created in 1996, according to a news release from the agency.