Harrison County

Wanted: Gulfport hiring director for planned Mississippi Aquarium

The proposed Mississippi Aquarium in downtown Gulfport would feature acrylic walls like the ones at the Georgia Aquarium, pictured here during a private party for Dragon Con last year. The transparent walls that are popular in today’s aquariums give visitors the sense of being underwater with marine life.
The proposed Mississippi Aquarium in downtown Gulfport would feature acrylic walls like the ones at the Georgia Aquarium, pictured here during a private party for Dragon Con last year. The transparent walls that are popular in today’s aquariums give visitors the sense of being underwater with marine life. File/2015

The Mississippi Aquarium needs a director who can manage a $65 million project, namely construction and stocking of the Mississippi Aquarium planned for downtown Gulfport.

The city’s economic development agency, the Gulfport Redevelopment Commission, is soliciting proposals for an aquarium consultant, which the agency says would be a full-time job.

The advertisement makes no mention of a salary range. Instead, those submitting proposals are directed to include a proposed cost for their services and the location from which they would be working.

GRC already contracts with one aquarium consultant, David Kimmel of H.J. Russell & Co. in Atlanta, but his work has been part-time.

“We're making progress,” GRC attorney Steve Hendrix said. “It's time to take the next step and the next step is a full-time person.”

A selection committee will rate the submitted proposals, then recommend finalists to the GRC and city, which will decide whom to hire.

The proposal says the city is looking for someone experienced in managing construction and development of “projects similar to the aquarium in magnitude and complexity.” GRC and the city want examples of similar projects the applicants have overseen.

One responsibility of the director would be to locate and acquire aquatic life for aquarium exhibits.

The request for proposals indicates the person hired could be kept on to manage the aquarium once it opens in early 2019.

The city plans to build the aquarium on 4.5 acres north of the downtown frontage road that overlooks U.S. 90, Jones Park and the harbor. The city has $40 million in hand for funding and needs to raise another $20 million for exhibit animals. The aquarium would include four buildings, with an outdoor exhibit as its anchor.

It would depict marine life on the Coast.

A Louisiana marketing firm already is on board to market the aquarium and raise money.

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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