GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico made quite a splash recently when officials announced former Mayor Mike Dow would come aboard the troubled museum as its newest executive director.
Dow, who replaces Brent Beall in the position, will largely serve as the face of the entity’s board of directors and work on fundraising, while Beall — in the newly formed position of chief operating officer — will continue to handle the day-to-day operations.
Dow, who served as Mobile mayor from 1989 to 2005, said he was excited for the opportunity to helm the museum he had a hand in helping to create. He said he had “unfinished business.”
“My job is to go down and make sure the fundraising side is strong,” he said. “It’s not really about me. I want to make it about the waterfront, GulfQuest and building tourism in our community”
Fundraising will be important for the museum, which is under partial city control, as it is still in debt to a number of entities, city spokesman George Talbot said. The balance of money owed by the board is uncertain, Talbot said. Despite this, Dow seems undaunted by those challenges and is working to put forth a plan to help Mayor Sandy Stimpson change the dynamic along the city’s waterfront. An active waterfront, Dow said, will lead to more visitors to GulfQuest, which has struggled in the past to reach attendance goals.
“We have to get the waterfront online, like most waterfronts in the country,” he said. “That’ll give GulfQuest life. We feel if the waterfront comes up, people will come to GulfQuest.”
Details of the deal between Dow and the private GulfQuest board have not been released. Dow said he wouldn’t discuss his pay structure, except to confirm that he would be paid a percentage of the fundraising dollars he brings in.
Among his myriad ideas to help activate the city’s industrialized waterfront, Dow believes part of the area underneath the proposed Mobile River bridge could be set aside for another park, in addition to Cooper Riverside Park, which is closer to GulfQuest. Connecting the two parks, Dow said, could result in a riverwalk concept.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson applauded the deal his office helped broker to bring Dow back downtown 13 years after he last stepped foot in Government Plaza as the city’s chief executive.
“I think it’s a good move,” Stimpson said. “We collaborated with the board on it. It’s a good thing.”
In a statement, Visit Mobile President/CEO David Clark said the organization was excited about the announcement. He said Dow would be a “valuable addition to the city’s marketing team.”
“GulfQuest has a significant role to play in our much-needed waterfront re-programming with new leisure activities, entertainment, riverfront dining and other family-friendly amenities,” Clark said. “We are excited to welcome Mike Dow to our hospitality team.”
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