Wisconsin Welcome Centers to Close

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March 3, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle plans to close the state’s eight welcome centers and two dozen Department of Natural Resources field offices to help close the state's $5.7 billion deficit.
The moves underscore the state's continuing shift from providing services in old-style brick-and-mortar buildings to offering them online, through third parties and over the phone, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The state Tourism Department runs eight welcome centers at rest stops on the state's borders. About a million people visit the centers annually. But Deputy Tourism Secretary Mark Richardson said they will close to help meet Doyle's budget order for $1.7 million in savings from the agency.
The budget likely won't be approved for months, but the agency decided to shut down the centers within the next few months.
The department plans to compensate with better online sites. It also has approached local chambers of commerce about taking over the counters, especially in Beloit, which sees an especially high volume of visitors.
The DNR, meanwhile, runs 31 field offices where counter workers sell hunting and fishing licenses. The sales would end at 24 of those offices beginning in March 2010. Fifty-one workers would move into other DNR openings.

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