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As state and local governments everywhere struggle with meeting community needs, it would be wise for elected officials not to overlook the immense contribution museums make to the local economy. That is true here in Southern Maryland, and that is why government should support museums.

Museums attract tourists, and cultural tourists are the stars of the travel industry, staying 53 percent longer and spending 36 percent more than other visitors. Museums also bolster our education system, investing more than $2 billion annually in education programs that positively impact our neighbors of all ages and backgrounds.

Less tangibly but no less essential, museums enhance our quality of life. I know I take pride in the museums here in Southern Maryland, and I think most of our fellow citizens share that view and should share it with our elected leaders. I will be doing so in Congress on Feb. 26 during Museums Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.

I urge readers who love our museums to join our effort by visiting the American Alliance of Museums website, www.aam-us.org, where they can easily send a letter to Congress expressing their support for museums.

Museums are community anchors, and government at all levels needs to be made aware of their value.

I also invite you to check out our website, www.sfi-md.us, where you can read about our new space museum, opening 2014 in Calvert County.



Alan J. Hayes, Dunkirk

The writer is the chairman and CEO of Spaceflight Institute, Volanz Aerospace Inc.