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Economic development officials speak on Hannibal visitors center closure

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Hannibal economic development officials said a good source of advertising for visitors will be lost after the state of Missouri closed a visitors center in Hannibal.

The state’s tourism commission has voted to close three state-run visitor centers including one in Hannibal off Highway 61 as part of budget cuts.

It's all part of a nearly $450 million withheld in July by Governor Parson due to state tax revenues related to COVID-19.

Local economic development officials said it's unfortunate as the visitors center promoted many local attractions in the region and offered local jobs.

"It's been an important asset for us, I really look at the folks there as really sort of sales people for the state of Missouri in their position there and trying to help people understand the attractions that are available to them and direct them in that way," said Hannibal Regional Economic Development Council Executive Director Corey Mehaffy.

Of those withheld dollars, $8.6 million came out of the $18.6 million state tourism budget, which is why state tourism officials said this is happening.

Other two closures include one in St. Louis county near the Mississippi river on Interstate 270 and another in Kansas City, resulting in the layoff of six full-time positions.

Mehaffy said in Hannibal the Convention and Visitors Bureau is an affiliate with the state's tourism board, and the bureau could potentially pick up some of the things the visitors center used to do.

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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