The Brainerd Lakes Chamber, which jointly operates the Brainerd Lakes Area Welcome Center with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, served more than 13,000 motorists during the statae government shutdown.
During the shutdown, the chamber assumed responsibility, including costs, for the continued operation of the Highway 371 visitor information center and rest stop.
“Visitors to the Brainerd Lakes Area Welcome Center were quite pleased to discover our center remained open,” chamber CEO Lisa Paxton said. “The Brainerd Lakes Chamber serves as the official tourism information resource for the Brainerd lakes area. It was important for our member businesses, during our busiest time of the year, that the Welcome Center remain open and not be mothballed during a government shutdown.”
In addition to the thousands from Minnesota, guests came from as near as Iowa and as far as Austria.
The decision to keep the welcome center open as a service to visitors to the region landed the Brainerd Lakes Chamber in the national spotlight. Staff members fielded several requests for interviews, including three interviews over the Fourth of July holiday weekend with Paxton on The Weather Channel.
Now with the government shutdown over, all rest stops in Minnesota are expected to be open by Saturday.