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Purcell cuts ribbon; new Welcome Center opens

Hundreds of Georgia residents – many from Effingham County – turned out Friday morning to the ribbon cutting of the new Georgia Welcome Center on Interstate 95 Southbound in Chatham County.

State Transportation Board (STB) member, Ann Purcell, and STB Chair Robert Brown, joined Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry, P.E. and Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Commissioner Pat Wilson as they officially opened the Welcome Center in front of an excited and eager crowd.

The facility is the first Georgia Welcome Center location on the I-95 corridor.

“It is a great day today in Coastal Georgia as we open the state’s first new Welcome Center in over a decade,” STB member Ann Purcell said. “We are proud to have this sophisticated state of the art building right here in Chatham County.”

The facility is over 22,000 square feet and houses numerous exhibits showcasing all corners of Georgia, ranging from downtown Atlanta to the low country of Savannah and more.

“New technology and energy conservation measures like highly efficient computerized HVAC systems and LED lighting make this new Welcome Center truly remarkable,” Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said. “I am certain that this brand new facility, with its welcoming amenities and interactive displays, will host millions of happy visitors in the coming years.”

The Welcome Center joins eight others in the state of Georgia, all of which are operated by the Georgia DOT and the GDEcD.

“With the opening of this new state of the art Visitor Information Center we are able to provide millions of travelers with a wide range of travel assistance including friendly trip-planning help from knowledgeable staff, state travel guides, and travel tips that help influence their decisions to stay in Georgia and explore our state,” GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson said. “Our friendly Visitor Information Center staff are the face of Georgia, they greet every visitor with a warm welcome and a dose of the Southern hospitality that we are known for.”

The facility began to come together in May 2015 when construction began at a cost of $10.2 million. Along with displays, there are vending machines, bathrooms, information desks and picnic areas outside.

Following the ribbon cutting, area restaurants provided food for attendees and served their creations outside of the facility.