At a well-attended grand opening ceremony on August 30, Sanford city and economic development officials celebrated the official debut of The Sanford Welcome Center. It’s the latest in an ongoing series of activities and initiatives designed reinforce Sanford and Lee County’s presence as an attractive and desirable place to visit.
The Sanford Welcome Center is located on the first floor of the Buggy Factory building, where it shares space with other Sanford Area Growth Alliance (SAGA) organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development group. Downtown Sanford, Inc, is also a tenant of the downtown focal point for economic growth and tourism.
While the Welcome Center presently has a limited focus, with brochures and an area for drop-ins to ask questions about area attractions, it is also a likely precursor to much bigger activities. A free-standing Visitors Center in the Depot Park building is anticipated for the near future. Greater investment is likely to follow in the aftermath of the recently enacted hotel occupancy tax that generates funds specifically earmarked for area tourism.
The grand opening was well attended by government and community leaders, reflecting the emphatic support that tourism has enjoyed from the City of Sanford, Lee County and elected representatives of both political parties. Sanford and Lee County each contributed $25,000 in funds for 2016 and 2017, so that SAGA could establish a Visitors Services division. Crystal McIver serves as Executive Director of Visitors Services and will play a central role in the group’s growth and evolution in the coming months.