HARRISBURG – The value of heritage areas to Pennsylvania’s economy was recently recognized by Commonwealth lawmakers during the deliberation and passage of the 2010-2011 State Budget. The legislature partially restored the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (DCNR) Heritage Area line item that had been zeroed out in the previous budget year. In addition, under the leadership of House Speaker Keith McCall, an Article attached to the budget legislatively establishes the Heritage Area Program within DCNR and authorizes funding support for eligible grants and investment programs.
These actions demonstrate an understanding of heritage areas’ ability to forge cooperative alliances spurring economic development through significant leveraging of resources and financial investment in communities across the state.
“Pennsylvania is the birthplace of America and the engine that drove the industrial revolution that made America the greatest nation on earth, and I believe we have to do everything we can to celebrate that history,” House Speaker Keith R. McCall, D-Carbon, said. “When you also consider that tourism is one of the state’s biggest economic drivers it just made sense to fund HeritagePA in the budget to support vital programs and help encourage investment at every level while preserving our rich history for future generations.”
Established in 1989, the Pennsylvania Heritage Areas Program is a smartly built, multi-faceted regional strategy guided by five interrelated goals including economic development; partnerships; cultural conservation; recreation and open space; and education and interpretation. Pennsylvania’s 12 heritage areas have joined together as HeritagePA. This key component of the state’s tourism industry is administered by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).
Pennsylvania’s heritage regions are about the eras of steel and iron-making, coal mining, the oil boom, canal and railroad-building, the blazing of early roads and highways, and life on the frontier. They are about the influx of immigrants, the challenges and triumphs of a determined people, the birth of liberty and independence. They are about transforming a frontier and forging a nation into an industrial giant. They tell the stories of why Pennsylvania became the heart of America and the state that built a nation.
Understanding the power of heritage-based development, DCNR partnered with other state agencies to create the program as both a means and an end to enrich the quality of life in Pennsylvania by conserving and enhancing the Commonwealth’s resources and promoting its heritage for tourism development.
For more information about PA’s Heritage Areas visit www.heritagepa.net.