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Over $170,000 In Heritage Area Grants Awarded To Support Local Tourism

Jul. 19, 2012

The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority recently awarded Garrett County’s Heritage Area four grants in support of heritage tourism projects and activities.

The Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area, managed by the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce, was awarded a $100,000 Heritage Area Management Grant and a $30,000 Heritage Area Marketing Grant. The Oakland Heritage Community Foundation Inc. was awarded a $31,772.50 grant for classroom improvements at the B&O Railroad Museum, and the Garrett County Historical Society was awarded a $13,000 grant for the exterior transportation history wall murals at the Garrett County Transportation Museum.

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These four grants were part of 63 matching grants totaling $2,713,480 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. 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,” said a chamber spokesperson. “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 state-certified heritage areas 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 as revealed in food, music, and art,” said the spokesperson. “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.”

Tourism generates jobs and revenue in Maryland. According to the chamber of commerce, one out of every 17 jobs in Maryland is in tourism, with tourism employment providing over $4 billion in wages and salaries. Visitors to Maryland spent over $13 billion, which generated over $531 million in direct tax revenue in all 23 counties and Baltimore City.

“The Maryland Heritage Area Program’s targeted investments help preserve the best of Maryland’s historic sites and towns, unspoiled natural landscapes, and enduring traditions, and in doing so create more livable and economically sustainable communities,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “I congratulate Maryland’s 12 certified heritage areas and their tourism partners on these awards that will develop and market visitor destinations, support businesses, non-profits, and local jurisdictions engaged in heritage tourism, and help keep Maryland smart, green, and growing.”

MHAA has invested over $15.5 million into 334 projects throughout Maryland’s 12 certified heritage areas under the O’Malley-Brown administration. Governor O’Malley has supported funding for this program, said the spokesperson. because knowing that heritage tourism is a proven economic engine and a tool for preserving Maryland’s natural, historic, and cultural legacy.

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