Chamber office open, tourism center will follow
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Chamber office open, tourism center will follow

Nov 2, 2016

There isn't much to see inside Genesee County's future Visitor's Center, but tours were the order of the day as the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce moved in upstairs.

Chamber Director Tom Turnbull said he's been acting as a tour guide for Chamber boardmembers, business owners and anyone who stopped in as one office was settling in and another was a month away from completion.

"I'm so excited, so proud when we show them around," Turnbull said on what he counted as his fifth tour of the morning Tuesday. "But you can see that it's not done, it's got a long ways to go. You can get an idea of what it's going to be like, because when it's done, it's going to be really fantastic."

Crews installed a phone system and other amenities inside the Chamber office, which has co-mingled with visitors services as the county's designated tourism promotion entity. They, and the Business Education Alliance, shared a cube farm inside the Main Street storefront vacated this weekend for a remodeled Park Road facility. Tourism staff worked out of a meeting room Tuesday, part of a month-long encampment before the visitor's center has a soft opening in about a month.

A staircase leads down from the Chamber office to the tourism office, but the building is literally two different projects. The upper floor is funded by the Chamber's membership, the lower floor from the county's bed tax receipts. Turnbull said they will still cooperate.

"The Chamber is to promote business any way it can and improve the quality of life, but tourism is about bringing business in, to bring visitors in," Turnbull said.

The 2,400 square-foot upper floor is slightly smaller than the Main Street site, and a collection materials is piled up in a back room as it awaits placement in the 1,800 square-foot lower floor.

Walking through the rough construction, Turnbull said the foyer will be open 24-7, with a wall of guides available. A tourism desk will face out into the main center, with staff and a selection of I Love NY merchandise positioned just behind, and large maps of Genesee County, the Finger Lakes and the state in a nearby alcove.

Turnbull was already thinking ahead to the post-opening facility, outlining where he'd like to set up picnic tables and small events. Even where an uninstalled pole light will shine.

"We have the Quality Inn right here, but you can see the hotels that are across the Thruway, and they can see us," Turnbull said from his office. "Once we get the signs up, we'll have a light pole beaming right on the Visitor's Center (visible to) The Hampton Inn, the Comfort Inn ... we're right in the middle. We'll have close to 1,000 hotel rooms within a half-mile from here when the Fairfield Inn is built."

By Jim Krencik, Batavia Daily News

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