GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. -- If you've driven on the 190 on Grand Island, you've probably noticed the progress being made on the new Western New York Welcome Center.
It quietly opened to visitors for the first time Monday, and we visited to give you a first look inside.
To get to the new Western New York Welcome Center, you have to use the Whitehaven Road exit on the 190. What awaits you is a $25-million building designed in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright that's part museum and part snack bar with bright new bathrooms, and food from local farms.
"This supports farmers in New York State, and specifically here in Western New York, and, you know, we're all hearing about the ag economy and how it's been a struggle for farmers particularly this year, a lot of different things that they're dealing with, so this is one way to really try to support the farmers of Western New York," says Diane Held, Executive Director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County.
Held says the Cornell Cooperative Extension is working with the Department of Agriculture and Markets to run the Taste New York store. It opened Monday without a lot of fanfare, but a viewer emailed us asking how local businesses can get their food into the shop.
"Excellent question. So, Jim Eady who is the store manager is the person to contact, but they can also contact me. Either one of us can get them the application to get their things in the store. And, we do plan on rotating things so that we can show showcase a lot of different farms and vendors from New York State, particularly from Western New York," says Held.
Austin & Justin Shores, 12, are from Grand Island. They wanted to be some of the Welcome Center's first visitors.
"What do you like about it?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.
"There's a playground," said Justin Shores.
"Like, I know I don't have an electric car, but like I think it's pretty cool how they have electric cars over there," said Austin Shores.
"I think it's cool like how they have a pirate ship and the playground," said Justin Shores.
The boys wanted to know what one of the outside areas was for. It’s a wooden structure. Kelly told them she didn't know, but then found the plans from the Governor's office released a year ago. It's an area for a farmers’ market.
A spokesperson for Empire State Development told us plans are being finalized for a grand opening of the welcome center in the near future.