The Heritage Towns & Tours initiative assists communities along the Schuylkill River Trail in attracting trail users to downtowns, restaurants, shops, historic sites and other attractions. The program strives to increase visitorship and improve the economies of participating municipalities.
Photo by Walt Hug
Heritage Towns & Tours Toolkit
The Heritage Area has created a Heritage Towns & Tours Toolkit to guide interested communities and economic development agencies in the following areas:
- Building successful public and private partnerships at local and regional levels.
- Promoting community revitalization and the improvement of local economies through heritage preservation and tourism.
- Defining a community’s distinct heritage preservation and tourism program to achieve short-term and long-term heritage-related goals and objectives.
- Initiating a sustainable long-term process for heritage tourism.
While the toolkit was developed with Schuylkill River Trail communities in mind, it is easily adaptable for any community.
Learn more about the program:
Heritage Towns & Tours Presentation
Schuylkill River Heritage Towns & Tours Program Executive Summary
Read the Heritage Towns & Tours article from Pennsylvania Borough News April 2013 issue
The complete toolkit is available on DVD. You can purchase one for $5 online (click here), or by calling the Schuylkill River Heritage Area at 484-945-0200.
About Our Grant Program
The grant program for 2012 is now closed. See below for award recipients. Two types of grants were available during the 2012 Grant Round. Those included Heritage Action Planning Grants provided funds to organizations interested in completing a Heritage Action Plan, and Implementation Project Grants given to organizations and partnerships who have a completed and approved Heritage Action Plan.
Heritage Action Plan Grant Instructions & LOI form
Implementation Grant Guidelines
Information About Grant Recipients
The Schuylkill River Heritage Area awarded grants in December 2011 to five communities to implement the Heritage Towns & Tours Program. Those communities—Pottstown, Phoenixville, Hamburg, Pottsville and East Falls—have already begun using the toolkit. In 2012, three communities received Heritage Action Planning Grants, including Norristown, Exeter and Historic Germantown.
2012 Heritage Towns & Tours Grant Awards
Schuylkill River Heritage Towns & Tours 2011 Grant Announcement
Schuylkill River Heritage Towns & Tours 2011 Grant Awards
About the Trail’s Economic Potential
According to a 2009 Schuylkill River Trail user survey conducted by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the trail, which currently has 60 completed miles, attracted over 800,000 visits and generated $7.3 million in direct economic impact in 2008. This economic impact is expected to grow as the trail grows. When complete, the Schuylkill River Trail will stretch an estimated 130 miles from Philadelphia to Pottsville. For more information on the Schuylkill River Trail visit our trail website at www.schuylkillrivertrail.com.
While all trails have the potential to revitalize the communities they pass through, longer trails have an advantage because they are more likely to attract tourists from outside the region. Studies show that people who come from out of town will spend four times as much as local users. Those who stay overnight will spend even more.
Photo by Walt Hug
The Heritage Towns & Tours program is made possible by a grant from the William Penn Foundation. The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that foster rich cultural expression, strengthen children’s futures, and deepen connections to nature and community. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance a vital, just and caring community. Learn more about the Foundation online at www.williampennfoundation.org