WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today announced an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant of $275,000 to the Town of Williamsport for the construction of a new visitor’s center in Williamsport’s business district. The new visitor’s center is expected to create 60 local jobs and annually bring an additional 310,000 visitors to the area who are expected to spend $3.5 million.
“This is the kind of grant I like to see, it will create jobs and it will make Washington County more attractive to tourists who will be able to enjoy the natural beauty and culture of the region,” said Senator Cardin. “This grant is an example of what a strong partnership between the federal government and local entities can accomplish in assisting rural communities to develop the infrastructure they need for a strong, vital economy.”
“This grant is about supporting jobs in Western Maryland,” Senator Mikulski said. “This funding will help grow Williamsport’s tourism economy and is a smart investment that will draw in new visitors, new jobs and bring economic development to the region.”
“I am very proud of the investment being made in Williamsport. I see this grant as an example of local and federal government working together to move forward,” said Williamsport Mayor Jim McCleaf. “This grant will create jobs, grow our economy and ensure that visitors have an understanding and appreciation of our area, including the importance and beauty of the C&O Canal.”
The 2,400 square foot visitor’s center will be located in the center of town across from the popular C&O Canal National Historic Park. The visitor’s center will be a central part of the Williamsport- Cushwa Basin Project to revitalize the Cushwa Basin. The Williamsport-Cushwa Basin Facility Project also includes a new boat launch and a reconditioned railroad lift station. In recent years, Williamsport has shifted its economy from industrial to tourism.
The ARC is a federal-state partnership that works with the people of Appalachia to create opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life. In addition to the ARC funding, local sources will be contributing $397,263 bringing the total funds available for the project to $672,263.