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Lawmakers push to preserve Essex National Heritage Area

The future of the Essex National Heritage Area took center stage Thursday, April 8, as U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) joined state and local leaders in touting the critical need to preserve federal authorization and funding for the 500-square-mile historic region north of Boston.

Markey and Moulton gathered on the steps of the U.S. Custom House on the Salem waterfront to announce legislation they re-introduced that would eliminate the total funding cap for the Essex National Heritage Area and extend its authorization through 2036.
They were joined by state Rep. Paul Tucker (D-Salem); Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll; and Annie Harris, director of the Essex National Heritage Area.

“Since 1996, Essex National Heritage Area has told the story of the commonwealth of Massachusetts past and present and has been the engine for the local economy,” Sen. Markey said. “It leverages federal funds with impressive return on investment to bring millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of visitors to the region.”

Since the creation of the Essex National Heritage Area, Congress has been authorized to invest up to $17 million in the region. In 2019, Sen. Markey, together with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), were able to secure an increase in funding to $20 million
Sen. Moulton said Essex National Heritage Area, which connects all of the communities across Essex County, has become a case study for successful national heritage areas across the country.

“The region generates $150 million of economic impact annually,” Sen. Moulton said. “Given how hard the economy has been hit (during the pandemic), we need Essex National Heritage Area more than ever.”

Mayor Driscoll said it’s vital to Salem that Essex National Heritage Area be maintained.
“Salem is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to history,” she said. “Those stories that are told are knitted together because of organizations like Essex National Heritage Area. They offer an opportunity to not only learn about history, but to experience it.”
The Essex National Heritage Area will expire on Sept. 30, 2021 without passage of the new legislation, which is also being sponsored by Warren and U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.).

Read the full legislation at

- Sonya Vartabedian, Director of Communications, North Shore Chamber of Commerce

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