The Lake Superior Center Authority was established in 1990 as a public corporation to work with the Lake Superior Center to better inform citizens about the importance of preserving and restoring the large freshwater lakes of the world, and to use funds provided by governmental and nongovernmental entities to build an educational facility. The Authority's enabling legislation gave it the ability to partner with the Lake Superior Center on accomplishing its mission. The Lake Superior Center is now known as the Great Lakes Aquarium, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit which operates the aquarium in Duluth as a public educational facility.
The 1992 bonding bill, Laws of Minnesota 1992, chapter 558, included $2 million for the Authority. Governor Carlson activated the five-member Authority with appointments in June 1992. The Legislature appropriated an additional $4 million in bonding in 1994 (Laws of Minnesota 1994, chapter 643) and an additional $10 million of bonding in 1996 (Laws of Minnesota 1996, chapter 463). The latter two bonding appropriations had matching requirements that were met before money was released.
The Lake Superior Center Authority board of directors "shall submit a report to the chairs of the senate Jobs, Energy and Community Development and the house of representatives Commerce, Jobs, and Economic Development Policy Committees of the legislature and the governor on the activities of the corporation and its contractors and lessees by February 1 of each year." See Minnesota Statutes 85B.06 for further details on reporting requirements.
The State Auditor's 2004 report provides further details about the Authority's history:
"The Authority entered into a management agreement with Lake Superior Center doing business as Great Lakes Aquarium at Lake Superior Center (the Center), a private nonprofit organization, to operate the facility. The Center was established April 1991 to offer public education programs to increase awareness of Lake Superior, in particular, and other large bodies of fresh water, in general. The Center is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of self-appointed members along with the Mayor from the City of Duluth and two City of Duluth Councilors. The City of Duluth Finance Director has represented the City as a nonvoting member.
"During the design and construction phase from June 1996 until January 2001, the Authority Board served as ex officio members of the Center's Board in order to reduce duplication of meetings and to increase communication between the two boards. The Authority was responsible for constructing the facility. A project manager was hired to oversee the project, and an architectural firm was hired to design the facility. After completion of the design, a construction management firm, along with many subcontractors, was hired, and construction began in January 1999."