Updated: Thursday, 09 Apr 2009, 5:46 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 09 Apr 2009, 5:46 PM CDT
MOBILE, Ala. - At the water's edge was a celebration. It's the "keel laying" for GulfQuest, a National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico.
The vessel-shaped facility is expected to be another major draw for our area. "This area is growing like no other area on the Gulf Coast, from Houston, Texas to Tampa,” said Alabama Gov. Bob Riley. “This area is really on fire."
Mobile is considered the 14th largest port in the nation and half of the city's income derives from the water.
Officials hope this museum will serve as another economic engine. "This maritime museum, GulfQuest, will generate about $5 million a year for the Mobile and Mobile County,” said Executive Director, Tony Zodrow.
At a time when a dark cloud lingers over much of the nation's economy, Mobile is going against the tide and seems to be a bright spot for economic activity. "While this isn't the same thing as TK or the tanker project, but it's a big part of a bigger picture,” said U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner.
City officials said it's part of the string of pearls initiated by former Mobile Mayor Mike Dow. GulfQuest officials believe the one of a kind museum, with interactive displays, will be a regional attraction, drawing close to 250,000 visitors a year.
"This will just add more jobs, more education and more curiosity about what's going on in the waters of the world, and in the port of Mobile,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby. A that port everyone agrees is an economic hot spot.
The GulfQuest is expected to open in 2011. The estimated cost to build the museum, is $38 million. GulfQuest is a public-private partnership, made possible through collaboration between the City of Mobile and a non-profit organization that is planning the museum and will operate the facility under a long term agreement with the City of Mobile.