Great Lakes Aquarium Posts Positive Numbers

By KBJR News 1

August 19, 2011 Updated Aug 19, 2011 at 7:23 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -Financial hardships and several management changes have plagued the facility since it's opening more than 10 years ago.

Whether it's their first time, or a return visit, people at the Great Lakes Aquarium are liking what they're seeing.

"The kids are having a blast. We're having a really good time. They love the hands on stuff so we are working our way through," said Janice Oss, who has never been to the aquarium before.

"We have the aquarium at the Mall of America and the cities but unlike that it's a lot about what goes on in Minnesota," said Dorie Wicklund, who has been to the aquarium a few times before.

After opening 11 years ago, the aquarium has been through several managers and only survived thanks to loans from the city.

"We've definitely had our growing pains I guess. We opened to great fanfare, had a great first year and then we went through some number issues and had to do some restructuring."

These days loans are being paid off, attendance is increasing, in fact it's at the highest it's ever been and operations manager Jay Walker says the facility is now able to look at re-investing in itself.

"The other years it definitely has been a 'let's maintain and keep moving' and now we are actually looking at growth and that is a great plus for us," said Walker.

New exhibits, revamping the aquarium's entry and moving and expanding classrooms in the building are just some of the upcoming changes.

Plans to continue to rotate exhibits is one of the facility's biggest draws.

Officials with the Great Lakes Aquarium say the facility generates around $1.4 million a year.

Written for the web by Elayne Crecelius