Changing its location

CVB purchases building, moving its offices

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Alpena Convention and Visitors Bureau President Mary Beth Stutzman visits the site of the future Alpena Visitors Welcome Center and Tourism Office. The CVB closed on the purchase of the building in Old Town Alpena and it will help to service tourists and visitors in Alpena and the surrounding area.

ALPENA — In 2018 visitors to Alpena will have a new place to go to receive information about the area.

On Friday, the Alpena Convention and Visitors Bureau purchased the building located at 420 N. Second Avenue next to John A Lau Saloon and intends to open a visitors welcome center and tourism office building. Local guides also will be on hand to navigate them around town and answer questions they many have about the area or events.

It will be the first time there will be an official welcome center in Alpena.

CVB President Mary Beth Stutzman said the sale of the property closed Friday and after some minor work to the former ice cream shop is complete, the visitors welcome center and tourism office will open. She said it is likely CVB staff could begin moving in sometime in late February and open shortly afterward.

The CVB office has been located in the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce building for many years. In the last few years, however, the number of tourists visiting Alpena has surged and the CVB has increased staffing from one to three. As a result more office space was needed as well as storage.

Stutzman said moving the CVB has been considered in the past, but the idea picked up steam around Thanksgiving. After looking at several other properties the CVB decided to open the new visitors center in Old Town Alpena near popular restaurants and the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Heritage Center.

“It was really an unexpected Christmas gift,” Stutzman said. “It really came together fast, but it is very exciting for us, our guests and everyone in the area.”

Stutzman said as the CVB continues to grow and tourism increases, having a dedicated welcome center became more of a need than a want. She said it is part of her job to prepare for the future of the CVB and to fill the needs of its visitors and opening a welcome center was a move she said will help all involved.

“We have grown pretty rapidly over the last four years and our operations have went from mostly the Great Lakes region promotional coverage to operating on a national scale,” she said.

Stutzman said the new building will offer more storage and office space. She said some of the CVB supplies are being stored at hotels in Alpena. Stutzman said she is excited about the new location and being able to serve visitors, as well as continue to work closely with the chamber on projects, even though they won’t be sharing a building any longer.

“Our relationship won’t change a bit,” Stutzman said. “We will still be close partners.”

Stutzman said a public grand opening will take place at the visitors center in the spring.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.