Monroe Journal staff reports
ABERDEEN – Aberdeen has been added to MDA’s Certified Cultural Corners program this year.
MDA (Mississippi Development Authority) tourism director, D. Craig Ray, has announced that Aberdeen, along with Pontotoc, Rolling Fork, Port Gibson and Bay St. Louis have been designated as this year’s additions to the program and that grants have been designated to towns with a population of less than 20,000 to preserve and promote their cultural heritage significance.
Aberdeen joins Philadelphia, a pilot community in the program, for the Pines Region, with Aberdeen’s areas of cultural heritage designated as art and architecture and Civil War.
Deborah Stubblefield, Aberdeen Visitors Bureau director, said a committee will be put together to explore ways to accentuate Aberdeen’s designated areas of cultural heritage and to decide how the grant money will be used to promote or develop these.
The MDA Tourism Bureau of Film and Culture established a Certified Cultural Corners Program in 2008 that identifies communities in Mississippi that have cultural heritage assets of national significance in at least two of the following areas: American Indian heritage, art and architecture, Civil War history, Civil Rights history, culinary culture, literary heritage and musical heritage.
The other regions, besides The Pines, are The Hills, The Delta, The Capital/River Region and The Coast. Besides Philadelphia, last year’s pilot communities were Cleveland, Holly Springs, Ocean Springs and Woodville.
The purpose of the program is to assist communities in identifying their cultural heritage assets, developing a tourism infrastructure, improving the community’s aesthetics and marketing these assets for cultural and heritage tourism.
“Historic and cultural assets that are preserved are beneficial for both tourists and locals to enjoy,” Ray said. “When you consider all these factors, two major revelations appear. One, the main benefit of tourism is for a destination’s residents, and two, that it’s the front door for economic development.”