WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) this week introduced legislation to ensure that the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, which spans more than 110 miles between New Philadelphia and Cleveland, can continue to draw investment, and support local jobs, tourism and economic development in northeast Ohio.

“Ohioans take great pride in our state’s historic role in building the Erie Canal and connecting our state to the rest of the country,” said Brown. “From Tuscarawas County to Cuyahoga County, the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area draws millions of dollars to our state each year, supporting thousands of jobs. We owe it to all Ohioans and visitors to continue to support this treasure.”

“This legislation will provide greater funding certainty for the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, which will help ensure that this site is protected and continues to attract jobs and investment,” said Portman. “The canal holds great significance to the state of Ohio, from helping our early towns and communities prosper to linking our state to the rest of the nation. I am proud to be one of the 2.5 million visitors who enjoy the canal’s towpath trail each year, and I look forward to working with my colleague Senator Brown on getting this legislation signed into law.”

The Senators’ bill makes a legislative fix to make sure the Canalway doesn’t face funding uncertainty each year. In 2015, Congress reauthorized the Canalway through 2021, but failed to simultaneously lift its funding cap to reflect its extended authorization, leaving the Canalway’s work to enrich the communities it spans in jeopardy each year. The Senators want to permanently lift this cap, so it can continue to receive its federal funding, which helps it raise additional funds from the State of Ohio, private organizations and foundations.

The Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition supports Brown and Portman’s efforts.

“On behalf of all of our partners along the Ohio and Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, we are grateful to Senator Brown and Senator Portman for their continued strong support and commitment for the Ohio and Erie Canalway, Towpath Trail and Connector Trail Trails,” said Daniel Rice, Co-Executive Director, and President and CEO of the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition. “Working together, we are fulfilling the legacy of Congressman Ralph Regula and creating a legacy for future generations.”

Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area spans the first 110 miles of the canal. The annual economic impact on Ohio is more than $408 million.