This year’s recipients of the Triangle of Achievement Award, that was presented at the 21st Annual Industry Appreciation Breakfast hosted by LADCO and Coulee Bank, are the La Crosse County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Wisconsin Department of Tourism and Wisconsin Department of Transportation for their work on the newly renovated La Crosse Area Travel Welcome Center off Interstate 90.
This project was truly a collaborative project that required the support from two state department leaders.
As the governmental agency of Wisconsin responsible for planning, building and maintaining the state’s highways, it was key to have the Department of Transportations’ support for this large project taking place off Interstate 90. Interstate 90 acts as a major gateway for travelers from the west. The information provided ensures that they can easily navigate their way on Wisconsin’s many highways.
Additionally, support for this project was needed from the tourism agency at the state level. It is important to present the traveler to this area with a warm welcome, in order to encourage their returned visit. The Welcome Center certainly provides this with their friendly staff and now grand façade from the renovation.
Other key dignitaries who were instrumental in allowing this project to move forward include Former La Crosse County Conventions and Visitor Bureau Executive Director, Dave Clements, Senator Jenifer Shillings, and Representative Jill Billings.
The rest area was first opened in 1977. It was a longtime goal of the La Crosse County Conventions & Visitors Bureau, and Clements, to replace this rundown facility. He began work with La Crosse’s Democratic legislators, Senator Shilling and Representative Billings to get state support of the project, which in the final stages was coordinated by A.J. Frels – the new Executive Director of the LCCVB.
For the project to come to fruition, it needed buy-in from the Republican governor. This issue was taken to the capitol in the 2013 edition of the Oktoberfest in the Capitol, a decades long collaborative event between the LCCVB, the Chamber, DMI, 7 Rivers, and LADCO, where it gained support from Governor Scott Walker.
In 2016, construction of the $3.5 million facility completed. It includes a visitor building, restrooms, playground, pet exercise area, picnic tables and seasonal walking paths.