BENNINGTON -- Gov. Peter Shumlin and Michael Obuchowski, commissioner of the Department of Buildings and General Services, will host a ribbon cutting on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at noon to celebrate and formally commission the Bennington Welcome Center.
The long-awaited Welcome Center opened its doors on Oct. 11, just in time for peak foliage and the Columbus Day Holiday.
"Good things come to those who wait. Although it may have taken a little longer than hoped for, the outcome is extraordinary," said Shumlin. "This is a legacy project that will serve the Bennington community and the entire state as a beautiful gateway to Vermont for decades to come."
Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joann Erenhouse said the center recently celebrated its one month anniversary "to rave reviews."
Erenhouse said, "While the weather certainly cooperated, merchants, innkeepers and restaurants claim they enjoyed almost record breaking business during the holiday week, and I believe the welcome center contributed significantly to the success businesses enjoyed."
"These projects are visionary," said Obuchowski. "Much is expected of our fleet of visitor centers, and this new gateway center is poised to ensure visitors get a warm and friendly welcome when they stop to rest or refresh themselves on their way through Vermont.
Representatives from Vermont’s Congressional delegation, as well as officials from the Federal Highway Administration and Vermont Agency of Transportation, will also be on hand to celebrate this important achievement, which was financed by federal transportation funds and a special Congressional earmark sponsored by former Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords.
The Bennington Welcome Center is projected to host 250,000 visitors in its first year and is being operated by staff from the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce under a grant provided by the state. It operates 365 days a year from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
"Over the years there have been a number of champions that lobbied for the installation of this important facility," said Brenda Jones, Bennington Chamber president. "We are humbled and cognizant of what this investment represents and the responsibility that permits us to be the state’s ambassadors to our visitors. We welcome this challenge and the opportunity it presents to every region in Vermont."