Maryland’s Heritage Areas Need Your Support

Dec 15 2009

Maryland’s Heritage Areas Need Your Support

Please support Maryland’s Heritage Areas! Write a letter of support today to Governor Martin O’Malley to ask for level support in FY2011 for the MHAA Program!

The Governor is in the process of creating his budget, and the DLS has recommended cutting the funding to the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority to $360,000. This would be a devastating cut that would severely impact the survival of the statewide heritage areas program, which has previously been funded at $3 Million annually.

The Heritage Area program has been building tourism and small businesses across Maryland for more than ten years. Four Rivers: The Heritage Area of Annapolis, London Town and South County is in its ninth year of operation and has brought funding of over $7.4 million to programs and projects in our area. The Authority’s recently completed strategic plan contemplates an environment of continued investment to sustain its success.

Funding for the program comes not from the general fund but from Program Open Space monies, since the goals of both are so closely aligned. The program is extremely effective in leveraging funds and forming strategic partnerships. It is visible and popular at the local level, and it is relatively inexpensive for what it gives back to the state in terms of jobs, tourism venues, preservation and recreation, and product development. Maryland‘s Heritage Area program is the most successful of its kind in the country and the model for other states seeking to build a strong economic base in heritage tourism. Heritage tourism is a “green” industry that will never be outsourced overseas or even outside of the state. Research shows that heritage tourists represent an attractive demographic: They are older, often travel in groups, and spend more time and money in a place than other visitors.

Across Maryland, heritage areas leverage the funds provided by the state through matching federal and private grants, with an average return on investment of $4.61 per $1. These state and local revenues go directly to our communities, most notably small businesses that support tourism, among the largest private sector employers in Maryland. Heritage Areas are creating an economy rooted in the very things that Maryland is so proud of: our history, culture, and natural resources, and we do this by creatively maximizing the investment of the State of Maryland.

Please help us in our appeal to the Governor to fund the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority at level funding for Fiscal Year 2011 so that we can continue this critical effort on behalf of Maryland’s future. Thank you for your support!