PLYMOUTH, MA— More than 150 people attended the second Massachusetts 400 Forum hosted by Plymouth 400 on March 30, 2016 to create a unified voice in support of leveraging the Commonwealth’s unique and lucrative opportunities surrounding the upcoming 400th anniversaries of some of America’s most historically significant cities and towns. As places like Plymouth (2020), Quincy (2025), Salem (2026), and Boston (2030) approach these significant milestones Plymouth 400, the organization planning commemorative events of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and founding of Plymouth Colony, is leading the initiative to create a statewide plan for elevating these events to increase national and international visibility and economic development through tourism and education over the next fifteen years and beyond.
The event saw broad representation from state agencies, legislators, tourism entities, historical and cultural organizations, educators, and transportation and economic development officials. Attendees were updated on plans for the Plymouth 400 commemoration currently underway locally as well as in the United Kingdom, and Leiden, Netherlands. Participants then engaged in conversations about connecting communities across the Commonwealth in making Massachusetts 400 a statewide initiative promoting economic development, tourism, and the education of these iconic events in American history, and discussed some of the undertakings that will require significant support from the State including major transportation and infrastructure updates, educational curriculums, and funding for events and programs.
“Massachusetts has a unique opportunity over the next fifteen years to highlight the four-hundredth anniversaries of some of America’s most iconic places like Plymouth, Salem, Quincy, and Boston. We developed the Massachusetts 400 initiative to unify the State in commemorating our collective histories,” said Michele Pecoraro, Executive Director of Plymouth 400. “By bringing these communities together, we will not only ensure the greatest possible economic impact, we will also ensure through cross promotion that the increased tourism and visibility is sustained for years to come, supporting the Commonwealth’s third largest industry, tourism.”
Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Jay Ash spoke about ongoing discussions at the State level to develop the Massachusetts 400 program and his team’s enthusiasm about the economic opportunities it will bring to the Commonwealth through business development and growth. Senator Vinny deMacedo spoke at the MA 400 Forum about the importance of the Plymouth 400 Commemoration, as it will be the world’s introduction to the subsequent 400th anniversaries in Massachusetts.
International participation in the Plymouth 400 Commemoration was highlighted by Michael Roumen, Director of Leiden Funds for the Arts and Frieke Hurkmans, Director of Pieterskerk Leiden, who shared new research in Leiden’s role in this piece of history and country’s interest in participating in the 2020 Commemoration. Plymouth 400’s partners in the United Kingdom also shared the current status of planning the events and programs in Plymouth, UK, to which Plymouth City Council recently committed £2.25 million in seed revenue funding over the next 5 years.
Anita Walker, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council closed the program with an exciting announcement about proposed funding for the Massachusetts 400 initiative; a request for $5.8 million in the FY2017 State budget in what she calls the “Massachusetts 400 Accelerator Fund” to support the planning and execution of 400th anniversaries across the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts 400 Forum was conceived by Plymouth 400 to create a network of partners working towards the same goal; to improve the State’s economic base through leisure, educational and business travel. Tourism is the number one industry in Plymouth County, accounting for more than $600 million in direct visitor spending and more than 3,700 jobs. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the travel industry is the third largest industry, with $19.5 billion in direct visitor spending annually and 132,000 jobs supported in the tourism industry. By creating a statewide plan for promoting these upcoming anniversaries and cross-promoting each historic destination over the next fifteen years, Massachusetts 400 will ensure the increased exposure of and visitors to Plymouth in 2020 will continue to benefit the entire Commonwealth through 2030 and beyond.
For more information about the Massachusetts 400 Initiative, visit www.plymouth400inc.org/MA400Forum
About Plymouth 400, Inc.
Plymouth 400, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization in Plymouth, Massachusetts formed to lead the planning and execution of programs and events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony in 2020. The Plymouth 400 Anniversary will highlight the cultural contributions and American traditions that began with the interaction of the Wampanoag and English peoples, a story that significantly shaped the building of America.