AUGUSTA — The co-owner of a downtown Hallowell business and consultant for an initiative seeking to bring the space industry to Maine is the new leader of the Augusta Downtown Alliance.

Jeremy Ashlock

Jeremy Ashlock started on the job this week as the new executive director for the organization, which serves to promote the city’s downtown and support its businesses. He takes the spot some five months after Michael Hall, who led the group for eight years, left the job for a community development position with the city of Waterville.

Ashlock, 31, an Augusta resident, is co-owner with his mother and stepfather of Juiced, the downtown Hallowell juice and smoothie shop.

And he recently has served as a consultant to the Maine Space Grant Consortium, a public-private partnership working on the Maine Space Complex Initiative, which established the Maine Space Corp., in an effort seeking to boost Maine’s prospects to be a player in the space industry.

Ashlock has been on the board of Augusta Downtown Alliance, a group primarily made up of downtown merchants, for a couple of years before deciding to put in for the job of executive director after Hall left.

“With my consulting for the space project set to wrap up soon, I was already looking for my next role,” Ashlock said. “The difficulty we faced in filling the executive director position served as a call to action for me. Sometimes if you want to see something done, you need to step up and walk the walk.”

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He plans to continue running Juiced, which he and his family have owned since 2014. He said he has a stellar staff and a manager who handles the day-to-day operations there. And, he said, his background as a downtown business owner continues to give him insights that he can draw from as he considers issues in Augusta’s downtown.

A hiring committee made up of community members, alliance board members, business and building owners, and a representative from the Maine Downtown Center chose Ashlock from 30 applicants from across the country, including about 15 whom Heather Pouliot, an alliance board member and former president, said were interesting and qualified. She said Ashlock’s experience, professionalism and local connection was “exactly what we were looking for in a director.”

“We conducted an extensive nationwide search to find the best candidate to lead our organization, and Jeremy Ashlock stood out as the ideal choice,” said Victoria Abbott, president of the alliance’s board. “His passion for community development and proven leadership skills made him the perfect fit to guide us forward.”

Jeremy Ashlock is the new executive director of the Augusta Downtown Alliance, beginning work this week. The group is behind a number of projects related to downtown Augusta, including the decorated fiberglass sturgeon that greet residents and visitors each summer. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Ashlock, who holds a bachelor’s degree in financial economics and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Maine, will be paid an annual salary of $60,000, Abbott said.

Pouliot said the board considers Ashlock’s ownership of his own business, even in Hallowell, as a plus.

“It’s hard to explain just how perfect Jeremy is for this position,” she said. “He has local knowledge and relationships, has a diverse background in owning his own business and working as a consultant, is committed to the downtown and the city as a whole and has a ton of great ideas already brewing.”

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Ashlock said he sees the downtown as the cultural and historic heart of Augusta.

“A good heart keeps us going — it reaches out to all parts to ensure the entire body stays healthy,” he said. “I think our downtown can play a central and vital role as a unique place that our city can rally around.”

He said the first steps in his new job include listening to what the diverse group of downtown stakeholders want to see happen over the coming decades.

“I’d like Augusta to be in the position to look forward to the future and position ourselves for continued growth, opportunity and place-making, while thoughtfully retaining the core identities of our rich history,” Ashlock said. “How do we craft an intentional, deliberate vision that works for our city, and then bring it to reality here in downtown Augusta? My work will be centered around that question.”

The Augusta Downtown Alliance — a member of the Main Street Maine program, which provides guidance meant to help revitalize downtowns — is funded by business owners, its members, yearly funding from the city of Augusta, and donors. The group has helped organize holiday and other events downtown, and has made other additions to the area, including, in recent years, a project installing sturgeon art downtown.

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