The Chester County Commissioners recently approved a $156,000 contract with Luzerne County-based Heritage Strategies LLC to bolster historic tourism in the county.
“Our historic tourism sector of the economy was damaged by the pandemic,” said County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz. “The plan here calls for our consultant to help us rebuild the lost tourism, especially as we lead up to, and prepare for Chester County’s celebration of our nation’s 250th anniversary in 2026.”
The Delaware Valley Regional Finance Authority is providing the funding as part of the County’s VISTA2025 economic development strategy, a public-private partnership. The premise of VISTA 2025 is that progress and preservation are complementary elements that support economic health while maintaining the “sense of place” that makes Chester County so attractive to residents and businesses.
“Our Chester County Planning Commission is partnering with the Chester County History Center, the Heritage Task Force, Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau, and America250PA Chester County Commission to increase capacity and marketing of visitor sites,” noted County Commissioner Josh Maxwell. “Heritage Strategies has demonstrated experience in heritage interpretation and marketing, and we are confident that they can bring these groups together to develop a comprehensive program that provides robust experiences for visitors.”
Working with these groups, Heritage Strategies will lead a multi-faceted effort that includes:
- Improved interpretation of existing sites of historic and cultural resources of sites of tremendous significance;
- Creation of new centers for information to tell the county’s full story;
- Better defined routing to increase connectivity to these resources; and
- Marketing strategies to target audiences that increases the number of visitors.
County Commissioner Michelle Kichline, who is leading the county’s America250 semiquincentennial commemoration, said the overarching goal of this project is creation of a comprehensive plan that will continue to support heritage tourism well into the future.
“The plan will give us clearer direction for the 250th celebration, and it will also encourage ongoing investment into the maintenance and preservation of historic entities, creating community pride in the unique history and identity of Chester County,” Kichline said.
Work on the plan will begin immediately. The Chester County Planning Commission estimates it will take about 18 months to complete.
“The first year will entail conducting a needs assessment of existing conditions and creating a capacity building plan,” said Brian O’Leary, Executive Director of the Chester County Planning Commission. “The final six months of the plan’s development will focus on a locational analysis, touring routes, and wayfinding as well as a marketing plan.”
Heritage Strategies is a collaboration of three long-time colleagues whose cross-sectoral specialties encompass the fields of planning, landscape architecture, and architecture—all focused on historic preservation and heritage development.