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ATLANTA-The $200-million Georgia Aquarium and the $100-million New World of Coca-Cola Museum will generate $200 million of new business annually to the state, funnel an additional $255 million into state and local tax registers over 15 years and create at least 3,000 new jobs statewide, many in the restaurant and hospitality industries, according to a Georgia State University study.

The attractions, both Downtown, will also be a magnet for new commercial real estate development, the study projects. The 250,000-sf aquarium alone will create 248 full-time positions. The 86,000-sf Coke museum will have a staff of 90, or 28 more than at the existing 43,000-sf museum adjacent to Underground Atlanta, a retail-residential-entertainment village.

Coca-Cola and Home Depot Inc. co-founder Bernie Marcus commissioned the study which was directed by Prof. Bruce Seaman. Marcus is donating the $200 million for the aquarium’s development, a figure that could grow before the attraction formally opens Nov. 23. Coca-Cola is donating the 20-acre tract between the north end of Centennial Olympic Park and Alexander Street where the attractions will be located adjacent to each other.

The museum, now under construction, is expected to be completed in late 2006 or first quarter 2007, Coke officials forecast. Meanwhile, Gov. Sonny Perdue has provided further encouraging news to what is expected to be a new entertainment district around Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, by establishing the New Georgia Tourism Foundation to formally promote tourism statewide for the first time. Craig Lesser, commissioner of the Georgia Dept. of Economic Development, will chair the foundation. The foundation will help market the aquarium, the museum and other attractions throughout the state.

Tourism brought in $25 billion to Georgia’s economy in 2003, according to the governor’s office. The state budget for fiscal 2005-06 shows an outlay of $5.4 million for tourism activities, including $2.8 million for advertising.

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