Thomas W. Mesaros
President & CEO
The Alford Group
I can still remember my first visit to Augusta during February 2011. I recall walking downtown looking for the Miller Theatre and trying to get a “feel” for what downtown Augusta was like and what it might become. I walked through the downtown core, made my way to the River Walk, back to Board Street and stopped in front of the Miller to take it all in, and I wondered a bit about the Imperial Theatre right across the street. There were not many people downtown that afternoon, though the day was sunny and relatively warm for February.
Prior to my walk through town, I had attended the West Augusta Rotary that meets at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. Of course everyone I meet during lunch wanted to know why I was visiting from Seattle and I mentioned that our firm, The Alford Group, was bidding to be the advisors on the fund raising side of the proposed Miller Theatre project. I explained that first we would do a feasibility study, and if that provided some evidence that the funds could be raised, we would then advise the organizing “Miller Committee” on the potential campaign. During the course of lunch, I receive some immediate feedback on the Symphony and on the Miller. And like any community feedback, some comments where based on fact – and some were not so factually based. On the whole, comments were positive seeing the opportunities to improve the downtown core and to provide a venue that would enhance the performance of the symphony orchestra as well as other potential artistic performers.
Since that first visit I have personally been to August probably 10 to 12 times. Our firm was chosen to be the philanthropic advisors and we are pleased to be moving forward raising the funds necessary for the Miller Theatre “idea” to become a significant concert venue for the surrounding area. On my most recent visit there, I walked from the Marriott Hotel to the Rooster’s Beak Restaurant to find some dinner. Downtown was “a buzz” with activity as people were coming and going into eating establishments and other shops along the Broad Street corridor. When I got to the Rooster’s Beak it was packed with people – so much so that I had to go next door to the Bee’s Knees to find a place to eat (when I left the Bee’s Knees about an hour later it too was packed with people. On a side note – both places have great food!!) The New Miller Theatre will only add to and enhance the vibrancy I experienced that evening.
Augusta is a city in transformation. This is probably obvious to all of you – but it has become obvious to me over the past 2 years. The new Kroc Center, the new conference center by the Marriott Hotel, the creation of Georgia Regents University Augusta, and now the new Miller Theatre are all certainly adding to the quality of life for all your citizens. Having entertainment venues like the midsize Miller, the smaller Imperial and the larger Bell Auditorium are important for the economic vitality of any city, and the success of the Miller Theatre will add to the success that is happening elsewhere throughout Augusta.
Augustans are making wonderful investments for future generations and it is my good fortunate to be involved, in a small way, in this wonderful project working with significant community leaders. These leaders are giving energy and resources so that this project will become a reality; and with their investments, and the investments of others, the Miller Theatre will come back to life. Join with them in this investment – and the returns will continue to multiply for many years to come.
The Alford Group is a national consulting firm with offices in Seattle, Chicago and Boston. Tom Mesaros has been with the firm since 1995 and became its President & CEO in 2003. Working with him on Miller Theatre project, as the lead consultant, is Amy Hines from Newburgh, NY who is a Senior Vice President with the firm.