"50 for Albany" looks to bolster Riverquarium - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

"50 for Albany" looks to bolster Riverquarium

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Flint Riverquarium leaders kicked off a new campaign to overcome ongoing budget problems and keep the attraction open Tuesday.

They're turning to business leaders in the community for support.

The new campaign is called "50 for Albany". Chief Operating Officer Tommy Gregors stressed the attraction cannot run on ticket sales and typical fundraisers alone.

You can find more than 100 species of animals at the Flint Riverquarium, but it takes a lot of money to keep the Riverquarium going.  Officials launched a plan they hope will ensure a better financial future for the attraction.

Fifty different businesses in Dougherty and Lee County are coming together with a goal of raising around $500,000 a year for the next two years.

"What this is it moves us out of survival mode day to day and puts us in a better position to go out and seek grants, to seek the support from the community and it was very important to get the support that we did from the city of Albany  to sure up that gift and that is not included in our 450,000 total, that is completely separate," says Tommy Gregors, Chief Operating Offficer.

City commissioners did approve 150,000 dollars for the museum's 2013-2014 fiscal year, which Tommy Gregors hopes to get next year as well.

It takes about a million dollars a year to run the Riverquarium, but he says over time they've cut that budget down drastically.

"Just through cuts, looking at staffing, utilizing our resources  and our partnerships through Thronateeksa, because what we have seen is we can negotiate better contracts because we can buy in bulk across the two facilities, share resources," says Gregors.

He says the Riverquarium is an important asset to the community that draws tourism and investors into the area. About 70 thousand people visit each year.

" One of the things that we want to communicate well is that the Riverquarium is here to stay its an important investment that the taxpayers of Georgia have committed to here and we can't see it shut down here in Albany," says Gregors.

So far they've raised more than $320,000.

Riverquarium leaders are still trying to put together those 50 business leaders who will pledge to the campaign.

Call the Riverquarium if you're interested.

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