Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552
ahayes@semo.edu

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MISSOURI DIVISION OF TOURISM COMMISSION
APPROVES AFFILIATED WELCOME CENTER AT RIVER CAMPUS

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 6, 2003 – Southeast Missouri State University received approval Tuesday from the Missouri Division of Tourism Commission for affiliation status under which the University would operate an affiliated Missouri Welcome Center at the River Campus.

Southeast is working in cooperation with the City of Cape Girardeau, the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) in the development of the Center.

“The Commission is excited about this new venture,” said Bob Smith, deputy director of the Missouri Division of Tourism. “We are always looking for better ways to promote ourselves and better serve the visiting public in this great state.”

The 5,000-square-foot Welcome Center will be located adjacent to the River Campus Museum. The Welcome Center will be situated along the western edge of the River Campus property off of the Fountain Street extension that will connect Route 74 and Morgan Oak Street. Ultimately, the Fountain Street extension will become the “front door” for the River Campus and the downtown area as vehicles enter Missouri from the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge on Route 74.

“The University is to be applauded for its effort with this initiative,” said John Mehner, president of the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce. “The Welcome Center is going to be a wonderful community asset that will benefit the entire city and region. The University really carried the ball with this project for the good of all Cape Girardeau residents and the citizens of this area.”

The University now will begin developing final plans and proceed with working with the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce, the CVB and the Cape Girardeau City Council over the next few weeks in seeking federal flow-through monies through the Missouri Department of Transportation to cover construction costs associated with the facility.

Lisa Howe, senior project manager at Southeast, said schematic drawings of the Welcome Center will now be incorporated into all future architectural renderings of the River Campus.

Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, says the affiliated welcome center concept is new in Missouri and that Southeast is the first to be awarded this status.

“The (Missouri Division of Tourism) Commission is introducing this program to expand our ability to serve the visiting public to Missouri and to bring on like partners to better serve that need,” Smith said. “This is brand new territory for us,” he said. “Missouri may be the first state to have such a program in place.”

The 10-member Missouri Division of Tourism Commission approved the concept of launching affiliated Welcome Centers in Missouri at an earlier meeting. Smith said that staff members with the Missouri Division of Tourism recommended that the application for a Welcome Center at the River Campus be approved when it was received in Jefferson City, Mo. Smith made the presentation on behalf of the University, the City of Cape Girardeau, the Chamber of Commerce and the CVB at a meeting of the Commission Tuesday.

Smith said the affiliated Welcome Center concept “adds that much more to our arsenal of appeal to the traveling public and will be of tremendous benefit to all concerned.”

Affiliated Welcome Centers are established in partnership with chambers of commerce, convention and visitor bureaus, and higher education institutions that offer a marketing, tourism or hospitality curriculum, Smith said.

Dobbins says the Missouri Welcome Center at the River Campus will provide internship opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in marketing, hospitality and related fields. The Missouri Welcome Center at the River Campus will be staffed by the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. The center will be a resource for information about attractions in Cape Girardeau and will provide maps, directions and brochures about regional attractions, events and accommodations. The center also will provide friendly advice about the best places to visit in the region.

More than a quarter of a century has passed since the state opened a new Missouri Welcome Center. Currently, there are only six such facilities in the state in Hannibal, St. Louis, New Madrid, Rockport, Kansas City and Joplin.

 

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