Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Northlake Welcome Center

In a never ending quest to provide people with information about St. Tammany Parish, a few friends and I opened the Northlake Welcome Center on North Causeway Approach in the mid-1980's. It was located in a small tan brick building on the east side of the major roadway, just a few blocks from Lake Pontchartrain.

We filled it with brochure racks offering brochures and business cards of a wide variety of businesses, motels, tourist attractions, real estate agents and other items of interest to people driving off the north end of the Causeway.

The Northlake Welcome Center staff included Karen Hays, myself, and a couple of others, but as time went on, those volunteers had others things to do than wait for people to walk in the door. 

It was successful at the beginning, but as time wore on, it became seasonal and the traffic dwindled. We were asking local community supporters and businesses to advertise on a monthly basis, but it wasn't enough, so we had to close the doors on the operation. 

A few years later the St. Tammany Tourist and Convention Commission opened up a tourist information center over on La. 59 north of Interstate 12, spending a lot of money on a building of considerable architectural presence, basically a backwoods camp style structure on pilings over a swamp near Koop Drive. 

It helps if tourist welcome centers have some sort of government funding in the form of a dedicated tax base, I guess. The Northlake Welcome Center did not have that and although it was fun to do and we met a lot of great people, it was just ahead of its time.