History of The Visitor Center

SUNLAND VISITOR CENTER

HISTORY
1987 — The Arizona City and Eloy Chambers of Commerce founded the Sunland Visitor Center to share resources in promoting a positive regional image, attracting tourist dollars and assisting economic development. 

Since that time the Center has promoted and advertised the communities and provided direct contact assistance to thousands of area visitors. 

The approach was and continues to be simple and direct.  Signs and advertising bring visitors to the center.  Loyal RSVP* volunteers greet them with a smile, helpful assistance, referrals to local business and developers, and an invitation to spend some time in the area. 

The Center has been directly responsible for the infusion of hundreds of thousands of dollars into the area’s economy, from tourist spending, to the purchase of property and homes, to the start of small businesses.  The Center’s success is the product of true teamwork, dollars and human resources.   That teamwork has produced results that neither community could accomplish on its own.

Our logo identifies us as being in the heart of the area known as the 1-10 Golden Corridor.  We sit near the intersection of two major Interstates (8 and 10) and the old Tucson Highway (84).   We are in a prime area for economic development, halfway between Phoenix and Tucson.    Our area is rich in history. 

FUNDING

The main sources of our funding are Pinal County and the City of Eloy.  The Chambers of Commerce in Eloy and Arizona City are patrons.  

Patrons provide funding for an annually published Sunland Visitor Center newspaper.   The newspaper has a directory of patrons, information on the SVC and  articles on the cities of Eloy and Arizona City, information on Arizona City Golf Course and Grande Valley Golf Club, highlights on Skydive Arizona, Casa Grande Ruins, Picacho Peak and McFarland State Parks, area seasonal weather information, and an informational section on Arizona Native Plants.  The newspapers are available to every visitor.  

Another source of funding is a donation jar in which visitors may leave donations.  Some of them show their appreciation of the Center by being very generous.

VISITOR CENTER
We are recognized as one of only three “Visitor Centers” in the state of Arizona.    The other cities have Chamber of Commerce “Tourist Information” stops which typically feature just their areas. SVC features over 350 free brochures, pamphlets, books, tourist newspapers, maps and other printed local information sheets.   Postcards are sold for a quarter or six for a dollar.  Information furnished by the SVC is to educate visitors about the area in the “heart” of the Golden Corridor in Pinal County.   We invite visitors to return.  Many do.  Some visitors stop because a friend has recommended our center as a place to get good information and help in planning their stay in Arizona.   In some cases, people stop just because they are lost.   Before they leave, they are well informed about our area.

We average about 8000 visitors a year.  Many of those come from other countries.  This last month (January) we welcomed nearly 800 visitors to our Visitor Center.  (February had 915 registered)

OUR FUTURE
Our new location: Mobile – Mini 3725 N. Camelot.  After the move, we set up a new web-site featuring information and links to attractions in our area.  (Possibility of advertising local businesses).    We will also have displays on cotton, gems and minerals, Native American exhibits, area flora and other things of interest.   We also want to build displays on the history of our area.   Visitors are interested in the heritage and rich history of this area.  Some are returning to find old homesteads, or in the case of migrants, family that was left behind when a move to follow crops caused some to leave the area.    

Our vision for the future includes working with the area residents to preserve the old Toltec School and the Villa Santa Cruz Hotel.  The School would make a great museum, featuring the cotton industry and the history of Eloy and the Santa Cruz Valley area.  The Visitor Center would like to help in operating that museum so that gathered photos, history from the area and other exhibits could be displayed and shared with visitors to the area.   This would be a great tourist attraction for the area.  There are some exciting possibilities!  More information will be forth coming on this preservation project. 

Our emphasis has been and always will be on promoting and advertising the communities, which we serve—Eloy/Toltec and Arizona City. 

Please stop in and look around. Our winter hours are 9-5, Monday-Friday, and 10-2, Saturdays. We welcome all visitors.