The long-awaited groundbreaking for the much-anticipated eighth and final Colorado Welcome Center at Fort Collins is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 17 on Prospect Avenue west of I-25. The ceremony is invitation only.
The project is a working partnership among Colorado State University, the city of Fort Collins, the Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau and Colorado State Parks. The Coors Brewing Company was the first investor with a commitment of $500,000 to get the project going.
The center will house the Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau, a Colorado State Parks north region office, and Colorado State’s Environmental Learning Center and the eighth — and final– state welcome center. The facility is expected to draw about 500,000 visitors annually.
Situated on more than 1,000 acres adjacent to the Cache La Poudre River, the Fort Collins Visitor and Environmental Learning Center will provide a gateway to Fort Collins and the natural wonders of the northern Front Range. Tourists, residents and students will have access to a wide array of information about the area’s cultural and natural history, natural resources and the unique environment where plains and mountains meet. A variety of projects and exhibits will be on display, focusing on ways to enjoy the natural beauty of outdoor Colorado and preservation of the environment.
A survey released earlier this year found that putting out the welcome mat at the other seven Welcome Centers brought in an estimated $22-$25 million to the state’s economy last year. Of the 500 individuals polled, 23 percent said the information provided by the center affected their choice of lodging, 22 percent said it influenced events they attended and one in five said visiting the center influenced how much money they spent. Sixty percent said the center had a "moderate to great" influence on plans to return to Colorado on their next vacation. And 99 percent said they would recommend a stop to family or friends.
The complex will serve a dual purpose:
- It will provide community members and visitors access to natural areas, outdoor education programs, libraries, exploration areas, demonstrations and exhibits that explain the delicate balance between nature, modern technology and people.
- The Welcome Center will greet visitors with information they need to enjoy Fort Collins and the northern Front Range, introducing them to area attractions, historical sites, dining and lodging, special events and shopping.
Other major contributors to the project include:
- Great Outdoors Colorado
- Stryker Short Foundation
- K&M Company
- W.M. B Berger Foundation
- Students of Colorado State University