November 30, 2017
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces North Country Welcome Center to Be Built in the Thousand Islands

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces North Country Welcome...

Regional Welcome Center Will Promote Local Tourism, History, Food and Beverage

Welcome Center Expected to Open in Late 2018

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a North Country Welcome Center will be established near the Thousand Islands Bridge in Collins Landing, Jefferson County. The welcome center, one of 11 being built throughout the state, advances the Governor's commitment to continue growing the tourism industry statewide by promoting local attractions, foods, craft beverages and other destinations. The North Country Welcome Center is expected to open in the fall of 2018.

"The unparalleled beauty of the Thousand Islands and the St. Lawrence River along with world-class local attractions make this the perfect home for the North County Welcome Center," Governor Cuomo said. "This new Welcome Center will promote regional attractions and products, support the local economy and help show off the wonder of the North Country to thousands of visitors each year."

Building upon the success of the welcome centers across the state, the North Country Welcome Center will include regionally-specific elements linked to the history and natural beauty of the St. Lawrence River and the history of the area, which includes such attractions as Boldt Castle on Heart Island in Alexandria Bay and the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton. The welcome center will include a Taste NY market showcasing locally grown and sourced products from across the North Country. Funding for the regional welcome centers was approved as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 New York State budget.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Under Governor Cuomo, tourism is thriving and supporting job creation and regional economic growth throughout the state. The new North Country Welcome Center will highlight these investments by encouraging visitors to experience regional highlights and inviting those passing through to plan a return trip."

New York State Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, "The North Country Welcome Center will give visitors an easy way to learn about all the things to do and see in this beautiful region of New York State, while also giving them a taste of locally produced products. Governor Cuomo has placed a strong focus on promoting tourism throughout the entire State and the Welcome Centers are a key way to spur local economies. I am pleased that the OGS team will play a part in the construction of this exciting new North Country space."

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "These welcome centers are a fantastic way to spotlight our State's unique regional assets, including its diverse agricultural food and beverage producers and businesses.  The North Country Welcome Center will provide an opportunity for consumers to get a taste of homemade products from the North Country, encouraging tourism and boosting the agricultural economy across the region."

New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, "The new North Country Welcome Center will be a gateway to all that the region has to offer, showcasing its beauty, its people and its products. Governor Cuomo's Welcome Centers promote regional tourism while highlighting New York's many attractions and spurring local economic activity."

Senator Patty Ritchie said, "From boating and fishing to simply taking in the beauty of our region, there's no place in the world like the Thousand Islands. Through this new welcome center, we can introduce visitors—especially those from Canada—to all our area has to offer and in turn, boost our vitally important tourism industry. I would like to thank the Governor for recognizing that the Thousand Islands is the perfect place to locate a new welcome center and introduce visitors to the endless opportunities we have for outdoor recreation, sightseeing and more."

Assemblywoman Addie Jenne said, "The Welcome Center featuring the Taste New York concept will be a great addition to our region. Enhancing our ability to promote locally grown products is essential to our agriculture- and tourism- based economy along the St. Lawrence River. We have many top notch producers and increasing their sales requires exposure that this new facility will provide. We know how much traffic passes through our area, and the key is getting those visitors to stop and find reasons to shop and stay. This will complement the strong efforts of local businesses and attractions and help strengthen our producers themselves and the entire economy. I appreciate Governor Cuomo's commitment through this project to grow our tourism and agriculture sectors in the North Country."

Jefferson County Legislative Chairman Scott Gray said, "Governor Cuomo has made unprecedented investments in the North Country, tourism is an important part of our economy and job market and we appreciate the Governor boosting tourism and creating jobs in our region.  The North Country Welcome Center will build upon that success by highlighting all the natural beauty, history and attractions our area has to offer."

Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator Jay Matteson said, "The North Country Welcome Center is a wonderful opportunity to highlight our agricultural products, especially our farm based craft beverages, delicious food products, and agricultural tourism destinations.  It is time for Northern New York to have a beautiful showcase for those coming into our Country across our northern border. On behalf of our entire agricultural community, thank you Governor Cuomo for making this happen!" 

Ron Thomas, Owner of Uncle Sam Boat Tours in Alexandria Bay, said, "This Welcome Center has the potential to be a game changer for the 1000 Islands and Jefferson County. We will now have the ability to showcase what our area has to offer in a highly visible, state of the art facility that will have easy on and off access to Route 81. It has been refreshing to have a Governor that treats tourism as the job producing industry that it is. Please extend my deep appreciation to Governor Cuomo for supporting tourism and investing in this critically needed facility."

Last October, Governor Cuomo announced the grand opening of the Long Island Welcome Center in Dix Hills, Suffolk County. Since then, the New York City Welcome Center opened in the Javits Center in Manhattan, the Mohawk Valley Welcome Center opened at Lock E-13, between Fultonville and Canajoharie along the New York State Thruway, and the Southern Tier Welcome Center opened in Kirkwood, Broome County.

Since taking office 2011, Governor Cuomo has made unprecedented investments in the tourism industry throughout New York State, leading to historic levels of visitors and direct spending. In 2016, New York welcomed a record 239 million visitors who spent nearly $65 billion, generating a total economic impact of more than $100 billion for the third straight year. Additionally, tourism remains the state's fourth largest employer, supporting more than 914,000 jobs annually.

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