The Legislative Audit Council has agreed to review the state’s participation in the National Heritage Corridor. State Representative Bakari Sellers of Denmark made the request for the review along with several other lawmakers whose districts lie within the boundaries of the corridor. Sellers says he and the other lawmakers want to know if the funds allocated for the program are being used in all areas of the region.
The program was created to boost tourism in rural areas. Designated by Congress in 1996, the S.C. National Heritage Corridor is a 240-mile path running through 17 counties from Oconee County in the northwest down the western border to Charleston. The corridor is divided into four regions.
Nationally, the National Heritage Areas received total federal appropriations of $18 million. Originally, each area received $1 million, but as more areas were added, it cut into the individual appropriations each area got because the total budget was not expanded for the growth. There are currently 49 National Heritage Areas in 32 states nationwide.
Sellers says he wants to know if the federal dollars allocated for the program are being used effectively. Sellers says if the review shows effective use of the funds, it may persuade the state to invest revenue in the program to enhance tourism in those areas many say are off the beaten path. That could prove important because the U.S. Government’s 2010-11 budget included language to eliminate 22 National Heritage areas. The S.C. National Heritage Corridor is seeking partnerships, either through private companies or other government agencies.
Sellers says state Representatives Tom Young, Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Bill Clyburn, Jerry Govan, and John Matthews signed his letter officially asking the LAC to review the program.
Sellers says no timetable has been set for the review.