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About the Project

The Mat-Su Convention + Visitors Bureau was awarded a grant from the National Scenic Byways to research and develop a plan for a new Mat-Su Valley Gateway Visitor Center.

The Mat-Su Valley Gateway Visitor Center will be a lively, attractive, well-designed space where residents and visitors alike will learn about the wealth of sightseeing, recreational and business amenities along the Glenn Highway. The Center will also welcome visitors to the Mat-Su Borough, provide interpretive information for travelers, and showcase the natural beauty of the area. The success of the project relies on strong partnerships with a variety of local and regional entities engaged in promoting and protecting the scenic qualities to be found in the Mat-SU Borough and along the entire length of the Glenn Highway.

Background information on how the Mat-Su Convention + Visitors Bureau (Mat-Su CVB) came to this point and acquired the grant:

  • In 1986, the Mat-Su CVB was formed as a nonprofit organization to promote the Mat-Su visitor industry.
  • The Mat-Su Visitor Center was built in 1989 on land donated by the Great Western Bank. (The parcel was put into title with the Mat-Su Borough to qualify for state grant monies to build the center.)
  • The 4,000 square foot 2-level visitor center was paid for entirely with $345,000 funding from the 1989 Governor’s Jobs bill.
  • With the construction of the Parks and Glenn Highway interchange, the Mat-Su CVB board of directors began recognizing the challenges of the visitor center’s location.
  • When the Valley Hospital and Triad selected their relocation site in 2003, they originally wanted to include the visitor center’s 4-acre parcel. The board further discussed the need to move the center.
  • In 2007, the board adopted a resolution “supporting the exploration of a partner driven destination visitor center to showcase the recreational opportunities in the Mat-Su Valley and increase the visitor experience and length of stay.”
  • On February 19, 2008 the Mat-Su CVB organized a meeting with potential partners.
  • In March of 2008, the Mat-Su CVB applied for a National Scenic Byways grant to develop a plan for a new Gateway partnership visitor center.
  • In June of 2008 the document “Matanuska-Susitna Borough Tourism Infrastructure Needs Study” was completed and identified visitor support and gateway infrastructure as a priority.
  • October 11, 2008 a special assembly meeting was held as a “Tourism Summit” and participants prioritized projects identifying the Gateway project as a high priority.
  • It was announced in December 2008 that the Mat-Su CVB was awarded the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) grant.
  • In March of 2009, the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) received permission to proceed from FHA.
  • In June of 2009, the Mat-Su CVB submitted a Letter of Intent to DOT.
  • In June 2010, the Mat-Su Valley Gateway Visitor Center Feasibility Study was completed.
  • In September 2010, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly passed a resolution supporting the Mat-Su Valley Gateway Visitor Center Preliminary Feasibility Study.
  • In December 2010, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly included $2.5 million for the Gateway Visitor Center in their state legislative priorities for 2011.
  • In May of 2011, the Mat-Su CVB hosted a Gateway Gathering event, where the public process determined site B1 (Homestead RV Park) to be the preferred site.
  • In November 2011, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly included $2.5 million for the Gateway Visitor Center in their state legislative priorities for 2012.
  • In December 2011, the Mat-Su CVB received a Memorandum of Understanding from MEA communicating working together to develop the Homestead RV Park as the Gateway Visitor Center.
  • In January 2012, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly passed a resolution unanimously supporting and directing funds received from the future sale of the current visitor center to be dedicated to the development of the new Gateway Visitor Center.
  • In September 2012, the Mat-Su CVB signed an Option to Purchase Agreement with MEA for the Homestead RV site through Sept. 30, 2013.
  • In December 2012, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly included the Gateway Visitor Center project in its legislative priorities for fiscal year 2014.
  • In April 2013, the Alaska State Legislature approved a $1 million capital appropriation to the Mat-Su Borough for site acquisition.
  • In September 2013, MEA extended the Option to Purchase Agreement through Dec. 31, 2013.