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Finger Lakes Region One Step Closer To A National Designation

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - Legislation that would start the process of designating the Finger Lakes region a National Heritage Area has passed the U.S. Senate.

The designation would give the area a national presence and the recognition it deserves, according to Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance Cynthia Kimble.

"If we look at the Finger Lakes region, the natural beauty itself is awe-inspiring.  But when you begin to delve into the history of the things that we have accomplished here in the region that has set the trajectory for the nation are pretty impressive," she said.

Kimble says that impressive history includes the birthplace of the women's rights movement, the Underground Railroad, and much more.

She says a recent Tourism Alliance study indicates tourism in the region's 14 counties generates over $3 billion in business, and employs over 58,000 people.

A feasibility study will determine if the region meets the criteria to be added to the list of 49 current National Heritage Areas.

"It's my understanding the feasibility study will look at all of these components, our cultural and natural historic resources, and determine if we meet the criteria for a National Heritage Area," Kimble said.

Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand of NY is sponsoring the National Heritage Area bill in the Senate, while Republican Tom Reed from the Southern Tier is sponsoring the legislation in the House.