ASHLAND, Ky. (WOWK) – The City of Ashland has taken some major blows recently with the closing of one of its major manufacturers and the future closing of a hospital, but on Wednesday the city received some good news.

“We are right in the middle of a Downtown Revitalization Project, and this is just a shot in the arm for us,” said Marty Gute, Ashland City Commissioner.

The city of Ashland received $6.8 million in Tax Increment Financing Money from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority that will go towards building a convention center and parking structure in downtown Ashland. Gute said the grant would not have been possible without the city establishing a TIF District to support the Marriott Delta Hotel Development.

The convention center and parking structure will be located right next door to the Delta Hotels by Marriott, and it will replace a dilapidated building with a new and improved one.

Ashland resident Josh Blanton said with the recent announcement of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital closing and the closure of AK Steel, the grant is welcomed news.

“. . . but we are not going to be a victim of companies deciding not to do business here, so TIF is a tool for us to use on our own, to do something for ourselves,” said Blanton. 

Gute said over the last few years the city has been changing its economic model from manufacturing to service and hospitality with the grand opening of  Delta Hotels last Summer and renovations to downtown businesses, and he also said the convention center will allow the city to attract new business and create jobs. 

“Just take for instance our fire department. They wanted a state fire convention and they weren’t able to that the last couple of years because there was nowhere to hold it,” said Gute.

Ashland resident and property owner Paul Castle said he thinks the parking is a progressive move.

“Because of the hotel and the development that is going on in our town, we will have downtown parking problems sooner or later,” said Castle.

Gute said the project is still in the early stages, and there are no renderings available at this time, but he and others are looking forward to seeing them.