By Morgan Bryce
Opelika Main Street has named Montgomery native and recent Auburn University graduate Ken Ward as its executive director.
During the last two months, Ward completed his masters degree in public administration from Auburn and applied and interviewed for the open executive director position, officially hired in mid-May.
Since starting last Monday, Ward said he has been actively meeting with city officials and local business figures to cultivate relationships and determine the organization’s direction moving forward.
“During my (four years) at Auburn, I made many trips to Opelika to shop and attend different events. I really had a chance to learn a lot about downtown through those visits, and in my mind, is a hidden jewel for the East Alabama, Lee County area,” Ward said. “It’s a very vibrant community with a lot of different businesses and historic preservation opportunities, and I knew that this opening was the perfect fit for me.”
Ward replaces Interim Director Dana Gafford, who served in that position since last May.
With his acquired knowledge of downtown Opelika and its merchants, Ward said he hopes to build upon the successful foundation laid by his predecessors.
“I feel like having the youthful energy that I have will help me to bring some new ideas to the downtown area that might not have been utilized in the past. I also want to continue to grow and expand some of our longstanding, successful events that Opelika Main Street has done for years that many people have been going to for years, because they have helped bring a great deal of business to downtown and help the community thrive,” Ward said. “In addition to that, I want to work on various beautification projects so that we can increase amenities in downtown for people and families alike to enjoy year-round.”
Opelika Main Street’s “On Tap” event July 27 will be Ward’s first major event as executive director.
For more information, call 334-745-0466 or visit www.opelikamainstreet.org.