Maryland Heritage Areas Authority Awards Over $600,000 in Grants to Heritage Tourism Non-Profits

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The Hogan administration announced that the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) has awarded 59 matching grants totaling $600,440 to heritage tourism nonprofits located in Maryland’s 13 Certified Heritage Areas. These grant funds support emergency operating costs that will help keep nonprofit organizations operational, as the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic ramifications continue. 

“As we gradually begin to open carefully across Maryland during this pandemic, it is critical that we support struggling nonprofits to help maintain the state’s heritage tourism economy,” said Governor Larry Hogan.  “These grant awards will assist in keeping Maryland’s great heritage available to all during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Heritage tourism nonprofit organizations’ sources of income, from event admission and tour group revenue to memberships and donations, have significantly diminished as a result of the ongoing pandemic. In reviewing the 114 applications received requesting more than $1.8 million, many nonprofits indicated they are struggling with basic utility costs and salaries.  The goal is to provide these emergency operating matching grants to help to keep the nonprofits operational and well-positioned to safely reopen, consistent with Governor Hogan’s Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery Plan

Organizations receiving grant awards include museums, cultural centers, historic theatres, educational organizations, and other entities that steward and celebrate the unique cultural and natural resources located within Maryland’s 13 Certified Heritage Areas. A list of the 59 grant awards can be found here: mht.maryland.gov/documents/PDF/MHAA/FY20MHAACovidAwards.pdf

MHAA’s FY20 emergency grant funds have now been distributed due to the significant need demonstrated by the requests. However, applications for COVID-19 MHAA Emergency Grants are still being accepted on a rolling basis. Those applications that did not receive funding in the initial round due to lack of funds and any new applications received will be considered if and when additional funding becomes available in FY21, which begins July 1, 2020. 

Potential applicants should consult the COVID-19 MHAA Emergency Grant Guidelines for details and a direct link to the application. 

MHAA oversees Maryland’s system of 13 locally-administered, state-Certified Heritage Areas. Today, all Maryland counties and Baltimore City have at least part of a Certified Heritage Area within their boundaries. Heritage areas foster broad public-private partnerships to preserve and enhance the best of Maryland’s historic sites and towns, unspoiled natural landscapes, and enduring traditions. 

Every dollar of MHAA state grant funding has a return on investment of $4.45, generates $19.8 million in state and local taxes, and creates 3,146 jobs annually. 

MHAA is an independent unit of state government administered by the Maryland Department of Planning. Since its creation in 1996, MHAA has awarded more than $41 million in grants and helped to leverage more than $1.6 billion in non-state funding for heritage tourism projects and activities in Maryland’s 13 Certified Heritage Areas. 

To learn more about the MHAA program, please visit mht.maryland.gov/heritageareas.shtml.