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John Ball Zoo study says aquarium should be located in Kent County

Downtown Grand Rapids photo
Wikimedia | Grguy2011

A feasibility study conducted for John Ball Zoo shows that a potential aquarium should be built in Kent County as opposed to Muskegon County.

Completed in 2023 by Canopy Strategic Partners, the study explores whether a potential aquarium would be more economically sustainable in Muskegon or Kent County.

CEO of John Ball Zoo Peter D’Arienzo said in a statement, “Both Kent and Muskegon Counties would be amazing partners on this exciting project. At this time, Kent County reflects greater financial and operational capacity to move this project forward.”

According to the study, the aquarium would create over 2,400 jobs and generate more than $231 million in state and local tax revenue within the first 10 years. Such a project would have a potential $2.9 billion-dollar economic impact regionally over a 10-year period.

Thursday morning, the Kent County Board of Commissioners voted to add a proposal to this August’s ballot. If voters approve, the Lodging Excise Tax ordinance would allow the commission to amend the tax from 5 to no more than 8%. The tax will help fund construction of Acrisure Amphitheater, a professional soccer stadium and future projects, including an aquarium.

According to city leaders, the aquarium is in the early planning stages.

Dave joined WGVU Public Media in November of 2023 after eighteen years as a Michigan Association of Broadcasters Emmy-nominated photojournalist and editor at Grand Rapids' WOOD TV8 and three years at WEYI TV25 in Flint, Michigan. As a General Assignment Reporter, Dave covers daily news and community events all over West Michigan.
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