State, local officials break ground on Hardeeville Welcome Cente - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

State, local officials break ground on Hardeeville Welcome Center


If you make your way up I-95 towards South Carolina any time soon, you may see some major construction going on right across the border at the welcome center.

The welcome center is 38-years-old, and on Monday, state representatives, local city council members, and chambers of commerce broke ground on what will be a state-of-the-art facility. The Hardeeville Welcome Center is one of nine in the state, and the second to undergo total renovation. The current building will be completely knocked down to make way for the building that will combine modern architecture and advanced technology. The director of the state's parks, recreation, and tourism explained why this facility is much needed.

"Tourism is - by most measures - is the largest industry in the state. It's an $18-billion year industry, and this is the first impression; this is the state's front porch. It's the first impression people have when they come in the state, which we hope leads to tourism and more economic development. The biggest change you will see is basically bringing into this age of architecture, this age of technology, the way people travel and their habits are different, and how they find out about travel differently than it was 30 to 40 years ago when these welcome centers were built," said Duane Parrish, Director, SC Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. 

The facility is expected to cost $4-million and will open in the fall.

"It's the front porch to South Carolina, but it's also the front door to Jasper County and Beaufort County, so if we put our best foot forward, they're going to notice it; it' going to affect all of us, said William Herbkersman, State Representative. "Welcome Center isn't just a title; we're welcoming people to South Carolina, so if we make a good first impression, they'll stop and be a part of the commerce."

The welcome center in Fort Mill, SC, was the first to be rebuilt.

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