City Officials Celebrate New Stores in Ashland

ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Dick's Sporting Goods and Petsmart are the latest stores to open their doors to shoppers in Ashland.

Thursday, city and business leaders held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the culmination of nearly a decade of hard work.

"You don't see a lot of major development like this happening right now," Ashland Economic Development Director Chris Pullem said. "The end result is about a $40 million investment and about 400 new jobs. It's been a great boost to our tax base."

The newest additions only add to the selection of restaurants and stores that have already attracted shoppers from all across the area.

"I truly believe we are now the hub of retail," Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles said. "Walk out into the parking lot and look at the license plates and where they are from. We are truly a regional area."

Developers admit it wasn't easy. A problem came up during construction. When crews blasted the rock to clear way for development, the rock expanded. "After we blasted the rock, we had a lot more material than we could use," Bo Gunlock, Vice President of Asset Management said.

But instead of wasting the extra rock, developers used it to add more space, allowing businesses like Verizon, Shogun and Chik-Fil-A to set up shop.

"Sometimes you'd rather be lucky than good," Gunlock said.

Shoppers say they're not only pleased with the new stores, but also the jobs that come with them.

"It's great for the area with new jobs for people," Steven Holcombe said.

The development isn't done yet. Officials say Kohl's will open near the end of 2014, as well as a few smaller retail stores.

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