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For Immediate Release: 6/12/17
Contact: Jonathan Dougherty | jonathan.dougherty@thruway.ny.gov
Office of Media Relations and Communications | (518) 471-5300

THRUWAY AUTHORITY ANNOUNCES OPENING OF THE MOHAWK VALLEY WELCOME CENTER 
Multi-Functional Facility Educates Visitors About the Region’s Vast History and Tourist Attractions

Now Open Year-Round, Center Features an Array of Experiences, including Local Food and Beverages, Path Through History, and Walking Path Along the Historic Erie Canal 

Video of the event is available on YouTube here and here

Ribbon cutting at Mohawk Valley Welcome Center

The New York State Thruway Authority today announced the opening of the Mohawk Valley Welcome Center (formerly the Lock E-13 Living History Rest Area) along the New York State Thruway in the Mohawk Valley. Located along one of the most scenic sections of the Erie Canal and Mohawk River, this Welcome Center offers travelers a state-of-the-art, year-round facility showcasing the region’s rich history and directing visitors to the Mohawk Valley's top tourism destinations.

Inside image of Welcome Center“This world-class stop along the Thruway is a fantastic partnership between state agencies, spotlighting the great agricultural products of the Mohawk Valley while promoting the region’s tourism and local businesses,” said Lieutenant Governor Hochul at the ribbon-cutting for the new center. “As a year-round destination, the new Mohawk Valley Welcome Center will offer travelers a place to rest, enjoy some great NY eats, and learn about the region’s incredible history. This is the perfect way to promote our state, sell our products, promote tourism and most importantly – bring more jobs to Upstate NY.”

In the heart of New York’s historic and picturesque Mohawk Valley, the Mohawk Valley Welcome Center showcases three major transportation arteries that helped build the Empire State and helped the U.S. expand west – the Erie Canal, the New York State Thruway, and the New York Central Railroad's water level route to Chicago.

“The State of New York’s motto is “Excelsior” which is a Latin word for “ever upward” and the Thruway Authority takes great pride in building things to last that are worthy of the Empire State,” said Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Bill Finch. “We couldn’t be prouder of Governor Cuomo’s vision of creating welcome centers to highlight tourism destinations across the state, including right here in the Mohawk Valley.”

Visitors can access the Welcome Center along the New York State Thruway (I-90) westbound at milepost 187 between exit 28 (Fultonville) and exit 29 (Canajoharie).

The Welcome Center offers new interactive kiosks promoting the state’s illustrious tourism industry, Taste NY local food and beverages offerings, restrooms, and more.  In addition, the expanded Welcome Center’s grounds now feature a “Path Through History,” showcasing the rich heritage of New York State's historical past, a Walk of Fame highlighting influential individuals from the Mohawk Valley, an ADA compliant playground, covered porch overlooking the scenic Erie Canal, three electric vehicle charging stations, and pet comfort areas.

Inside image of Welcome CenterState Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Taste NY offers a great opportunity for travelers to sample some of the best of New York’s food and beverage products.  We’re pleased to offer a selection of local foods, dairy products to visitors stopping at the Welcome Center.  Spotlighting the great agricultural products of the Mohawk Valley go hand-in-hand with the promotion of the region’s fantastic tourism destinations and local businesses.”

The renovated Taste NY area will be staffed by Liberty ARC, the Montgomery County Chapter of NYSARC, Inc., a statewide, not-for-profit organization serving people with disabilities. As an extension of the agency’s Liberty Fresh Market employment training program, this location will help individuals with Liberty ARC gain useful job skills and hands-on work experience.

“The expansion of the Lock 13 Living History Park into a premier Mohawk Valley Welcome Center not only opens the door to an unparalleled tourism experience but also continues to give the individuals at Liberty ARC the opportunity to have meaningful and engaging work,” said Liberty CEO Jennifer Saunders. “It’s vital to these individuals to be given the chance to learn, prosper and engage with others in an environment such as the Welcome Center.  Liberty ARC is proud, to once again, join with these NYS agencies and regional partners to create new and innovative jobs for those with developmental and physical disabilities.”

In 2015, Empire State Development estimates more than 6.2 million tourists visited the Mohawk Valley, up 13.6 percent since 2010.

"This Welcome Center highlights the rich history of the Mohawk Valley region as well as the variety of great local products that are produced here, and I'm happy to see it reopened for the busy summer travel season," said Senator George Amedore.

“Because the Thruway transports thousands of travelers each year, it offers a unique opportunity for New York to make a great first impression on visitors to our state. This repurposed welcome center will help highlight all that makes New York a great place to live, work, and play while attracting more visitors, jobs, and investment here along the way,” said Senator Rich Funke, Chair of the Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks & Recreation Committee.

Image of Welcome CenterCanal Corporation Commissioner Brian Stratton said, "Two centuries ago the dream of an Erie Canal held untold promise for‎ economic ascendancy, westward migration, and cultural diversity. Today, the Canal plays an integral role in a thriving upstate New York tourism industry, and this magnificent canalside gateway for the Mohawk Valley will help support and grow tourism throughout the region. We encourage residents and visitors alike to stop, sample some Taste NY delectables, and see a working lock in operation on America's most iconic and enduring waterway: the Erie Canal."

Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort said, “I want to thank the Governor, the Canal Corporation and the Thruway Authority for their commitment to this Welcome Center, which will be an asset to our community. It’s wonderful to have state projects occurring in Montgomery County that help to draw visitors to our local attractions and destinations. I am pleased with the improvements that were made, as they showcase the natural beauty throughout the Mohawk Valley and highlight the rich history located here in Montgomery County.”

Gina DaBiere-Gibbs, Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce Director of Tourism said, “We are very pleased the Lock E-13 Living History Rest Area has been chosen to expand and become the Mohawk Valley Welcome Center.  The Welcome Center is a unique stop on the NYS Thruway located along the picturesque Erie Canal.  We are excited about this expansion allowing travelers to learn about our Mohawk Valley history and our tourism assets in an interactive way that is not available anywhere else. We look forward to the opportunities the Welcome Center will have to showcase our rich heritage.”  

Oneida County Tourism President Kelly Blazosky said, “The facility is the first New York State Welcome Center solely dedicated to the promotion of the Mohawk Valley. We appreciate the investment the state has made to bring to life a year-round Welcome Center that delivers a well-rounded experience where travelers can pull off the Thruway, learn about the area’s world-class destinations through state-of-the-art information kiosks, understand Mohawk Valley history from items displayed on an artifacts wall while providing families a great location to simply rest and relax along the picturesque Mohawk River/Erie Canal.”

Nicholas Castellanos, Schoharie County Tourism Coordinator said, “The Mohawk Valley Welcome Center is a great stop for people to not only take a break from the drive, grab a snack or lunch, but to learn about everything that Central New York, The Mohawk Valley, the entire state, and Schoharie County have to offer. The lock-themed park for kids really sets the center apart as a unique and memorable location for not only travelers, but also locals.”

Mike Farmer, Town of Webb Tourism Director said, “The Mohawk Valley Welcome Center is an important and much needed customer service addition for Upstate New York, highlighting the Mohawk Valley as the central, connecting element for visitors. Sitting at the epicenter of Central New York, the new Welcome Center features not only the rich history of the Mohawk Valley and its “Path Through History” walking tour, but also information on and access to the Hudson Valley, the Catskills, the Finger Lakes region, and the Adirondacks.”

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