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Newport Aquarium marks 15 years

Newport Aquarium
The shark tank while it was still under construction.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Sen. Katie Stine, City of Newport Commissioner John Hayden, Rep. Dennis Keene, Newport Aquarium Vice President and Executive Director Eric Rose, offices of Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Newport Vice Mayor Tom Guidugli, Campbell County Judge Executive Steve Pendery, and Todd Cassidy with The Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism.

The Newport Aquarium is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

Campbell County Judge Executive Steve Pendery credits the Aquarium and Newport on the Levee for bolstering Northern Kentucky's economy.

"To employ a nautical term, which seems appropriate when you're standing in an aquarium, the Newport Aquarium is the anchor for Newport on the Levee," says Pendery.  "Those developments, having taken place 15 years ago... created the impression, not only with others around the state but with our friends in Cincinnati, that Northern Kentucky, at last, had arrived as an economic and community force."

Pendery adds the region's development has helped Campbell, Kenton and Boone counties post the lowest unemployment rates in the commonwealth.

"That isn't an accident," he says. "Job creation in those three Northern Kentucky counties for the last 15 years has been greater than any other area of the state including Louisville and Lexington combined. Newport on the Levee created the atmosphere. Success breeds success. And a lot of the success that we've enjoyed was founded right here with the Aquarium and the Levee."

The Aquarium says 10 million people have visited its sharks, fish and turtles since it opened, adding roughly $500 million to the local economy.