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Grand Island 'WNY Welcome Center' celebrates grand opening

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) - When you drive down the thruway on Grand Island you'll notice a big building. It's the home of the new Western New York Welcome Center.

"For years it was just millings and piles of dirt and now it's this magnificent structure," said Nate McMurray, Grand Island Town Supervisor.

The center is meant to be a hub of history with information on tourist destinations, and maps of regional attractions.

"We have millions and millions of people every year that go to Niagara Falls they take a picture and they go home but here we have an opportunity for those people to say what else is in this region?" said McMurray.

"You have a lot of Canadians who would be welcomed by this center to the United States," said John Maggiore, Director of Policy for the Governor.

You can access the Welcome Center by taking Whitehaven road exit 19 to get to Alvin Road. More than 23 million people drive by this location each year and state officials are hoping tourists will take notice and come to the new center.

"They're now going to stop, and that's what I've seen in other welcome areas where they now have a story to tell, the history, the culture, the architecture, the vibrant downtowns," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

Inside the 12,000 square foot building you'll also find a community room, as well as a cafe and seating.
Outside there's a play area for kids and an 'I love New York' selfie wall.

"The design, the placement, the signage, all of that was very deliberate to try to draw people here," said Maggiore.

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