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John Joslyn opened the Titanic museum in Branson in 2006, and he plans to open additional museums in Tennessee and New York in coming years.
John Joslyn opened the Titanic museum in Branson in 2006, and he plans to open additional museums in Tennessee and New York in coming years.

Titanic museum founder rides out financial 'roller coaster'

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John Joslyn has made a career out of entertaining people. But when he put together that entertainer's spirit and a favorite vacation spot - Branson - the result was a tourist venue of Titanic proportions.

Joslyn, owner of the Titanic museum in Branson and Cedar Bay Entertainment, was the featured guest Tuesday during the first installment of 12 People You Need to Know for 2010.

The media industry veteran began as a network executive in Chicago and Los Angeles before forming Westgate Entertainment Corp. in 1980. He moved into TV production in 1986, producing more than a dozen high-profile specials including "The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults" in 1986 and "Return to the Titanic ... LIVE" in 1987.

The latter program led Joslyn and his wife, Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, to develop an interest in the Titanic. But Joslyn, a Wisconsin native familiar with the Springfield area, was first introduced to Branson by a 1991 story on CBS' "60 Minutes."

That led to multiple meetings with Branson entertainment veterans Steve Presley and Pete Herschend, and - after a dozen years of vacationing in the area - the idea was hatched to develop a Titanic museum there. The 20,000-square-foot museum opened in April 2006.

Joslyn, however, is not resting on his laurels. His company is roughly 90 days away from opening a second, $25 million museum in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. He said he has been able to secure funding despite a rough credit market, which he said will be rough for the foreseeable future.

"Grab the bar on the roller coaster and hold on," he told the crowd gathered at The Tower Club, on the 22nd floor of Hammons Tower. "Today, it's a different market, and you have to be resilient."

Developers also have to be resourceful; Joslyn secured much of his funding for the Pigeon Forge project through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, because of Pigeon Forge's rural location.

"What does the Titanic have to do with agriculture? Nothing. But in government, that works," Joslyn said.

Next on the horizon is New York, where Cedar Bay is developing a $50 million floating museum idea slated for opening in 2012. Joslyn said that despite the weakened economy, he remains optimistic.

"You don't just start a project and bail on it," he said. "That comes from TV. When the red light comes on, you can't just sit there - you're on."[[In-content Ad]]


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