(EOHED Secretary Jay Ash and the Plymouth 400 Board of Directors. Image Credits: Denise Maccaferri Photography)
History matters in Massachusetts, as evidenced by the Massachusetts 400 Forum held in Plymouth last week, where 150 state and elected officials, tourism leaders, educators, cultural activists and international representatives gathered to make plans for some exciting milestones fast approaching.
Hosted by Plymouth 400, Inc., the all-day forum featured presentations, panel discussions and breakout sessions about how Massachusetts can capitalize on the opportunities on the horizon for cities and towns approaching their 400th anniversary.
These include Plymouth (1620), Quincy (2025), Salem (2026), and Boston (2030), as well as various other cities and towns in Massachusetts such as Gloucester, Hull, Chelsea, Swampscott and others. See list of Massachusetts cities and towns and year of origin.
State Senator Vinny deMacedo welcomed the participants to his district, noting the international flavor of the forum, with participants from the UK and Netherlands.
Also on hand were officials from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, a worldwide group of people who trace their lineage to the original Pilgrims on the Mayflower voyage; and leaders of the Wampanoag Tribe, the indigenous people who were already settled here when the Pilgrims arrived in 1620.
Jay Ash, Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development (EOHED) was the keynote speaker at the forum. He praised the work of the Plymouth 400 group and said the upcoming anniversaries provided an opportunity to celebrate the entire Commonwealth, while also elevating the state’s tourism industry.
“We are ready to engage in a discussion about how we look at tourism as the major economic engine that it is,” Ash said.
While much of the anniversary events will focus on the state’s history, heritage and culture, attendees were also excited about the Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship/MARS project, which “aims to design, build and sail the world’s first full-sized, fully autonomous unmanned ship across the Atlantic Ocean.”
Representing the cities and towns were Mayor Kim Driscoll of Salem, Mayor Tom Koch of Quincy, Selectmen Chair Kenneth Tavares of Plymouth, and Tourism, Culture and Sports Director Ken Brissette of Boston.
Michele Pecoraro, Executive Director of Plymouth 400, said, the Massachusetts 400 initiative was developed “to unify the state in commemorating our collective histories. 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.”
For more information, visit Massachusetts 400 Forum.