UGA students recommend sales technology, infrastructure updates and a community survey as part of a revitalization of the Thomson Twin Cinema, a critical piece of the planned restoration of downtown Thomson, a UGA Archway Partnership community.
Owners of the theater already are implementing some of the students’ recommendations, including installing a point-of-sale system and a community survey. The survey will be rolled out over the summer and early fall. Theater owners will consider the full slate of recommendations from the students over the summer and meet again early in UGA’s fall semester to discuss next steps.
The students, Leonard Leadership Scholars in the Terry College of Business, are working with two UGA Public Service and Outreach units, Carl Vinson Institute of Government and the Archway Partnership, on projects that would rejuvenate downtown Thomson in an effort to draw in more businesses and customers.
The students looked at theaters around the country and talked to their owners to determine best practices for the Thomson theater. Through that work they gained real-world experience that will help them succeed once they graduate, and they provided a valuable service to a rural Georgia community.
“These students have not only saved us countless thousands of dollars had we paid a consultant to perform what they have done, but they exude such positive energy that we can’t help but engage and interact with them,” said Jerod McDowell, a co-owner of Thomson Twin Cinema. “We are honored to have these smart, talented and professional future leaders helping us to revive a treasure of our downtown.”
For many of the students, this was their first project and first exposure to rural Georgia.
“It’s been a great experience this semester working with the owners of the cinema. They have been so welcoming and open towards us, and we can really see the love they have for the theater,” said Aracely Caldera, a student leader on the project. “We’ve been able to meet so many people in the community who support the theater and what we are trying to accomplish.”
The Archway Partnership connects selected Georgia communities with UGA resources to address critical community-identified needs. Thomson-McDuffie County is one of 13 communities selected for the Archway Partnership since the program began in 2005.
The Carl Vinson Institute of Government, working through the Archway Partnership, is helping Thomson revitalize its downtown through the Renaissance Strategic Visioning and Planning (RSVP) program, which works with rural communities to increase their economic vitality. Vinson Institute faculty, with faculty and students from UGA’s colleges and schools, work with community residents, local government leaders and businesses to prioritize issues related to downtown development and develop short- and long-range plans for implementation.
“I was impressed with the professionalism and knowledge the team of young business school leaders presented in their work. They have taken concepts learned in their course work and applied it to a real-world project,” said David Crawley, county manager for McDuffie and one of the members of the Archway work group. “The ideas presented will provide improved patronage for the theater, leading to improved revenues, allowing our community to retain a vital resource. I look forward to what the group will provide in the future.”
Baker Owens Public Relations Coordinator
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Rob Gordon Archway Partnership Director