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Mystic Aquarium receives more than $6 million in federal COVID relief

Mystic — Mystic Aquarium has received more than $6 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding.

The funding from the American Rescue Plan was announced last week by U. S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. It comes from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, which supports museums, theaters, cinemas and other entities that had to close for a period of time during the coronavirus pandemic.

"This new American Rescue Plan relief funding is going to help the Mystic Aquarium hit the ground running as they get back on their feet after a tough year," Courtney said in a news release. "The Mystic Aquarium is a real gem for eastern Connecticut — it's a popular destination that attracts families to our region, they provide good jobs and seasonal work opportunities, and it's a fantastic place for kids and even adults to learn, explore, and have fun."

Aquarium President Stephen Coan said the aquarium was grateful for Courtney's support and understanding of the aquarium's mission.

"We faced an enormous financial challenge in 2020, as despite being closed to the public and not earning any revenue for several months, we still had the responsibility of caring for, feeding, and providing veterinary care and life support for more than 7,000 marine animals, including many federally protected and endangered species. That key responsibility, along with being the largest provider of STEM education in the State of Connecticut and the region's only federally authorized marine mammal rescue response team for much of Connecticut, New York State and Rhode Island, meant that we could not completely shut down operations," he said in a news release.

The $6,084,252 grant can be used to cover a wide variety of expenses, such as payroll, rent and utilities, mortgage, debt and insurance payments, worker protection expenditures, state and local taxes and fees, maintenance and administrative costs.

In September 2020, the state gave the aquarium a $7 million loan as part of the aquarium's $31.5 million financial restructuring.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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