Great Lakes Aquarium hands reins to local business leader
A long-time Duluth business and civic leader will take the helm of the Great Lakes Aquarium. The aquarium's board of directors decided unanimously last week to hire Jack LaVoy as executive director. "As the new Great Lakes Aquarium's Executive Di...
A long-time Duluth business and civic leader will take the helm of the Great Lakes Aquarium.
The aquarium's board of directors decided unanimously last week to hire Jack LaVoy as executive director.
"As the new Great Lakes Aquarium's Executive Director, Jack LaVoy brings to the position a lifetime of experience in various leadership positions in both the private and public sectors as well as two terms of service in the Minnesota House of Representative," Elaine Hansen, the chair of the Lake Superior Center Authority said today in a news release announcing the appointment. "We believe that he has the right kind of skills and experience that the organization needs to lead it at this time."
LaVoy has been the Director of Business Expansion for APEX, or the Area Partnership for Eco-nomic Expansion. Prior to that, LaVoy served as director of marketing and communications for Iron Range Resources.
"I am very pleased and excited about this new opportunity," LaVoy said. "We need to build upon the foundation that has been laid with an eye to the future, focused towards enhancing the visitor's experience by making sure that all exhibits and support systems are fully functional and operational."
The board's decision to hire a local executive director is a response to the decision by Ripley's Leisure Entertainment to withdraw from its management of the Duluth-based attraction. Ripley's, which was in the third year of a five-year contract, notified the board in July that it would terminate the contract Oct. 20.
Ripley's and its GLA site director, Chad Netherland, were credited with stabilizing the world's only freshwater aquarium and reducing its city subsidies by slicing staff and focusing on bringing in new attractions, as well as keeping those already there in working order.
Netherland took a job in June as manager of the aquarium in Myrtle Beach, S.C., continuing to be the Great Lakes Aquarium's off-site manager, while Jim Walker was the interim director.
Before Ripley's stepped in, the city partially closed the aquarium and had to take over manage-ment after it went broke because of construction delays, a huge staff and way-off-the-mark attendance projections. Experts say the aquarium, owned by the state, probably will always need a city subsidy.
"Ripley's Leisure Entertainment and the employees of the Great Lakes Aquarium are to be ap-plauded for the extraordinary job they have done over the past several years in reducing the facility's costs and strengthening its operations; the move to local control will continue that progress," Board Chairman Pat Schoff said.