ASHLAND —Ashland Main Street is all grown up.
For the first 11 years of its life, the organization lived in the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce’s building off Claremont Avenue.
“It’s like the whole moving-out-of-your-parents’ basement thing,” said Sandra Tunnell, during the organization’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday. The new digs are in a second-story office space at 143½ A, W. Main St.
To be clear, Ashland Main Street is not a branch, arm or sister organization of the chamber of commerce. The organizations have similar missions, but different approaches.
As an affiliate of the Ohio Main Street Program, it is overseen by Heritage Ohio, and is part of Main Street America and the National Main Street Center.
Main Street organizations revitalize older and historic commercial districts to build vibrant neighborhoods and thriving economies.
Tunnell moved into the space in September, but she’s had access since June.
“I’ve been painting,” she said, adding she had to use elbow grease to get the 13-foot walls to the gallery-white sheen that they are today. The floors also needed a coat of black paint.
The former apartment means Ashland Main Street can have a Main Street address, while not taking away valuable space for other businesses looking for space.
Ashland’s downtown wasn’t always like that, said Dan Lawson, the chamber’s chair.
“I remember a time when there weren’t very many businesses downtown,” he said. “But now, we have other cities calling us, asking ‘how’d you do that, or how’d you do this?’ Well, here’s how. Here’s who.”
As he said it, he pointed at a beaming Tunnell, prompting applause from the crowd that packed tightly into the smallish space.
The space has been decorated with Tunnell’s vibrant flair — green philodendrons growing over windowsills and shelves, succulents, pieces of Ashland’s manufacturing history and awards granted to Ashland Main Street. She even conspicuously placed old Times-Gazette articles around the room.
“When they were written, the TG articles were aspirational,” she explained. “They were all like, ‘this is what we could do or what we will do.’ But now, it’s like, ‘oh, look at what we’ve done.’
“So the articles are there to remind us of where we were and where we are now,” Tunnell said.
Tunnell hopes being located along Main Street will lead to being more accessible to partners and downtown businesses. Her business hours will remain to be 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday.