Secretary of Planning David R. Craig praises Heritage Areas Program

March 23, 2016

Message from Secretary David R. Craig:

Greetings! This month, I will focus on heritage tourism and the great work of the Maryland Heritage Areas Program, which celebrates its 20th year in our state. As someone who values history and its importance to local areas, I am proud that my agency’s strategic plan includes an action plan to “stimulate economic growth and job creation by leveraging private investment in heritage tourism development and historic property rehabilitation projects in existing communities.” The Maryland Heritage Areas Program is governed by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and administered by the Maryland Historical Trust. The Authority operates within the Trust which is an agency of the Maryland Department of Planning. This 18-member body, chaired by Deputy Secretary Wendi Peters, provides targeted financial and technical assistance to the 13 Certified Heritage Areas, each of which has a distinct focus or theme that represents a unique aspect of Maryland’s character.

I am pleased to report that in 2015, the program certified the state’s 13th Heritage Area, the Patapsco Heritage Greenway, located in portions of Howard and Baltimore County. Now every county in the state and Baltimore City has part of a heritage area within its boundaries. And just under $3 million in grants was awarded to 62 projects last year, which leveraged an additional $15 million in nonstate investment.

The Heritage Areas Authority oversees a robust program of grants, loans and tax credits to support heritage tourism projects in each heritage area and funding to help support their operations. Since 1996, the Authority has awarded over $35.4 million in grants to Maryland’s heritage areas. This investment by the state over this period has leveraged over $99 million in nonstate funds for local heritage tourism projects and activities statewide.

Each of Maryland’s 13 Certified Heritage Areas is a local economy that contributes to the success of state. The programs, projects, and marketing efforts undertaken locally and funded by program funds foster heritage tourism-related economic development and job creation. The program synergizes many organizations and local governments within a single heritage area to do what each could not do alone – coordinate marketing and integrate programs for heritage tourism. The funding for Heritage Areas benefits an entire area as a harmonized endeavor to promote its distinct historical and cultural assets.
Read Secretary Craig’s full statement here: MD Planning Secretary’s Corner for March – Maryland Heritage Areas and economic development.

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