Ashland Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Gibbs rattled off a series of reasons why economic development leaders are thankful this Thanksgiving.
Gibbs, speaking as the Alliance celebrated 100 years as a chamber at the 19th Annual Meeting and Awards Presentation, said of course he is thankful for Braidy Industries’ recent announcement to locate to the Tri-State. Gibbs said there are other reasons, though, too. This year there have been 1,197 permanent jobs announced or created. The region is set for 1,000 construction jobs in this area starting in April.
"There is something even bigger than these numbers," Gibbs said. "There is hope. None of this activity happens without partnership and leadership (from) each one of you."
Gibbs praised Gov. Matt Bevin's recruitment efforts across the state and here in the region. He praised partnerships with Kentucky Power that are aimed at economic development, along with area communities and school districts. He said Tri-State Angel Investments has been an important partner as have colleges within the region.
Gibbs cited as recent economic successes:
— Job growth at Portable Solutions, which doubled its workforce.
—Wright Concrete, which is expanding and constructing an 80,000 square-foot facility in the Wurtland Riverport.
— Downtown Ashland Plaza Hotel, a $16 million project and 125 jobs involving investors Jim Nizzo, Andy Spiros and the city of Ashland.
— King's Daughters Medical Center adding 125 positions and 19 physicians.
— Members Choice Credit Union added 13 positions and a new branch.
— Morning Pointe Memory Care and Alzheimer's assisted living at the new Lantern facility in Russell.
— Kroger has added 30 jobs and announced a new online order system.
Gibbs was especially thankful for the decision by Braidy to come to the region.
"The commitment that (Braidy President) Craig Bouchard (has) made to this community will change the futures of hundreds, if not thousands, for decades to come," Gibbs said.
Andrew Jones, northeast region president of Community Trust Bank, said Monday's event was spectacular.
"It is the biggest turnout we've ever had," Jones said. "There is a new excitement, a new optimism in the air."
Kentucky Power President Matthew Satterwhite agreed.
“It’s the 100-year anniversary and it is a packed house,” Satterwhite said. “Everyone is here to celebrate and it's great. I think (the future) is really bright. Tonight is a real testament..and I think the next year and next few years in particular you are going to see lots of growth in every area and it’s going to spread throughout the entire Central Appalachian region with it all starting right here in Ashland.”