Legislation to Keep Welcome Centers Open Longer

State welcome centers in Mackinaw City, Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace will continue to operate eight hours a day for the entire week following a successful supplemental state budget amendment introduced by Rep. Frank Foster.

Foster’s measure provides $200,000 to maintain operation of the Eastern Upper Peninsula welcome centers on a minimum schedule of at least eight hours a day and seven days a week. Any remainder of the funds will be distributed equally to other welcome centers across the state.

“The Legislature, state tourism department and local communities and businesses have worked hard to make a sizeable investment in the Pure Michigan campaign to bring visitors and their vacation money to our communities,” said Foster, R-Petoskey. “It’s imperative we not only have the welcome mat out for them, but that we have resources ready to greet them, answer questions and offer more suggestions for all the opportunities Michigan has to offer. We can’t afford their experience to be lights out and a locked door.”

Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, made this comment after House passage of the funding: “It was important that funding was included for these centers. I, along with others, worked hard last fall to ensure that our northern Michigan welcome centers would remain open to serve the public. They are integral to the region’s economy, and I am happy to now hear that the House will be restoring this funding.”

House Bill 4289 now goes to the Senate for consideration.