ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) — Some big business announcements in Ashland last year are turning into more jobs and new businesses this year.
The domino effects promised by city leaders and politicians are starting to come to fruition.
For Jason Camp, CEO of the 3 J Group, it means moving his family of seven, as well as two other families, from Florida.
“We want to be part of the rejuvenation of Ashland,” Camp said.
The three J’s refer to the first names of the main people involved.
They hope to take advantage of a business climate and opportunity, thanks to Braidy Industries and its $1.3 billion aluminum mill and a $16 million downtown hotel, the 4-star Delta by Marriott.
“I think we may be the first ripple effect for somebody that’s going to affect the general public in the community,” Camp said.
The 3 J Group plans to open four businesses with an total number of estimated employees of 180: Smokin’ J’s Rib and Brewhouse next month in the Park Place building, site of the old Ambassador restaurant, The Winchester Steak, Seafood and Bourbon Bar inside the downtown hotel, a catering business and a food service business serving the construction workers and employees at Braidy.
Lara Clagg is the owner of Lara’s across the street from the hotel.
“Anything downtown I think is great for the area,” she said.
Her business may not directly benefit from new restaurants, but after 32 years of being in business, she believes downtown is trending in the right direction.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth come and go downtown,” Clagg said. “I feel like over the last few years, it’s increased. It’s exciting to be in the downtown of Ashland again.”
Chris Pullem, Economic Development Director for the city, is excited.
“I’m thrilled,” he said. “This is definitely a ripple effect and the renaissance of downtown Ashland.”
Pullem said he’s spent more time in recent years trying to stop the bleeding. He hopes those days are over.
He said other investors and developments are waiting; they just needed someone else to make the first move.
“The downtown you see today compared to what you’ll see in five years from now will be unrecognizable,” Pullem said.
Camp got connected to the area through the CEO of Braidy Industries, who is close personal friends with one of Camp’s partners. But as they examined the opportunity closer, moving north just made sense.
“We’re really excited to be here and part of the community,” Camp said. “Really this is a fantastic community. I think people who live here 24/7 don’t understand how special it is. There’s positives and negatives to every atmosphere and every community. It’s a different change of pace for us, having the seasons. There really are some great schools here. We’re just happy to be here as a family and as a group.”
Smokin’ J’s is expected to be the first to open on May 18. At first, it’s only expected to be open on Friday through Sunday, but he said if business is good, they’ll consider opening during the week.
He hopes to open The Winchester in September or October.