Grand Opening of Brand New Tennessee Welcome Center in Unicoi County

Friday, May 14, 2010 | 09:17am

ERWIN, Tenn. - The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee Department of Transportation hosted the official grand opening ceremonies of the brand new I-26 Tennessee Welcome Center, today, Monday, May 14 at 1 p.m. EDT. The center is located at I-26 in Unicoi County, near Erwin. The grand opening event was part of Tennessee’s National Tourism and Travel Week festivities.


Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely and Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker were on hand to bring remarks and officially open the center with a ribbon cutting ceremony. This special event was held to celebrate the completion of the Welcome Center, the first-ever on I-26 in Tennessee. Other national, state and local officials in attendance were United States Congressman Phil Roe, Tennessee Senator Steve Southerland and Tennessee Congressman David Hawk. Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch, Unicoi City Mayor Johnny Lynch and Erwin City Mayor William Don Lewis were also in attendance.


“I’m so pleased to see the completion of Tennessee’s 14th Welcome Center at I-26 in Unicoi County,” said Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. 

“Our Welcome Center employees offer the state’s first impression to the more than 15 million annual visitors, providing great Southern hospitality and world-class service. This center is a tribute to the value Tennessee places on tourism, a $14.4 billon economic engine for the state.”


Designed as a log cabin, the facility combines the warmth of Tennessee with the modern advantage of new construction. The I-26 Welcome Center in Unicoi County can be accessed via both eastbound and westbound lanes. Erwin is located east of Johnson City near the North Carolina border. Interstate 26 is approximately 349 miles in length traveling through Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.  


“The I-26 Welcome Center in Unicoi County will play a pivotal role in welcoming visitors to Tennessee,” said Gerald Nicely, Tennessee Department of Transportation commissioner. “Interstate 26 travels through the Cherokee National Forest and the Tri-Cities area of East Tennessee. I’m very pleased that we now have a center welcoming visitors to this strategically important area of our state.”  


On-hand to add some great Tennessee music was the ETSU Bluegrass Band. In addition, many regional tourism partners participated, providing tourism information in keeping with National Tourism and Travel Week.


Tennessee’s Welcome Centers are constructed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and are operated by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. 


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