Ben and Jessica Ijames

Your Rowan Favorites

Place to Eat:
Jessica: Go Burrito
Ben: Ichiban Japanese Seafood and Steakhouse
Outdoor Activity:
Jessica: Bell Tower Green
Ben: High Rock Lake
Event or Festival:
Jessica: Polar Express, N.C. Transportation Museum
Ben: Non-profit fundraisers

Ben and Jessica Ijames

Jessica Gaskill Ijames: Director of Community Engagement, Strategy and Integration, Novant Health
Ben Ijames: Store Services Supervisor, Ahold America, LLC, Salisbury, NC

Natives of Rowan County

Industry: Healthcare & Retail

Ben and Jessica Ijames are often seen at outdoor venues in Salisbury/Rowan with their three daughters: Brooke, 5; Blaire, 2.5; and Emersyn, 1. 

The Ijames couple purposefully chose to remain in their native Rowan County, wanting to raise their children in the community where they grew up. “I wanted to stay connected,” says Jessica, who describes Rowan County as “comfortable living. People are friendly and we all look out for one another. Rowan County has tons of amenities for a reasonable cost of living.

“I love to shop and eat locally,” she adds. “It is so nice to support local businesses and get great products and have great food. I also like all the local parks and tourist attractions. We try to go to local parks regularly with our children and go on family adventure days to Lazy 5 Ranch, Patterson Farm, and the Transportation Museum.

In undergrad, Jessica double majored in business administration and communication arts at Catawba College and has been employed at Novant Health for 7.5 years. Ben has a degree in business administration and management from Catawba.

Connections

“I love this community,” she adds. “There is a great quality of life here, and it’s easy to get connected to a church community and develop deep relationships.”

Ben says that Rowan County has so much to offer. “The community is rich in history, and we all have a lot of pride for where we call home,” he says.

His favorite outdoor space in the county is High Rock Lake. “I love to be outdoors so anything on High Rock Lake, or exploring hiking trails or parks, is always fun for me and my family.”

Jessica chooses Bell Tower Green as her favorite outdoor space. Her children love the downtown park with its water wall and open spaces. “There’s something for all of them to do. There’s the playground area or we can get a snack at a downtown restaurant,” she says. “We meet friends at the park for play dates. It’s a great asset for children.”

Ben chooses Ichiban Japanese Seafood and Steakhouse, while Jessica picks Go Burrito as favorite restaurants. Go Burrito is a kid-friendly environment, she says. “We love the atmosphere, and the food is fresh and delicious. We like to go there after church and on date nights.”

The couple is actively involved in the community, and Ben says that he enjoys non-profit fundraisers as his favorite special event. Jessica is a volunteer at Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, Healthy Rowan, and the Rowan Helping Ministries Homeless Shelter and has served on boards at Downtown Salisbury Inc., Habitat for Humanity, and Meals on Wheels.

Jessica’s favorite special event is the holiday Polar Express at the N.C. Transportation Museum. “It is probably just the season of life we are in with our young children, she says, “but we have made it a family tradition,” involving their young children and her parents, Scott and Karen Gaskill. “It’s multi-generational,” she adds.

‘Sweet Spot’

Ben calls Rowan County “the sweet spot” of North Carolina. “It’s close to the beach, the mountains, and Charlotte, while maintaining a small-town feel. It’s so nice to be able to get to anywhere in the state within a couple of hours. That makes it so convenient to travel for work or pleasure and enjoy all the wonderful things that North Carolina has to offer.” 

Jessica’s thoughts turn to the Rowan-Salisbury School System among best offerings in the county. When their eldest daughter was ready for school, Jessica says that she and Ben purposefully sought out Harold Isenberg Elementary because it is a dual-language school and they want their children to have that experience. 

Regarding the county’s “Be an Original” slogan, Ben describes it as the unique attributes that Rowan County has to offer that you cannot find anywhere else. It really is a wonderful place to live, work and play,” he says.

Jessica says that it means “being unique and living the life that you imagine. I am young and love living in Salisbury with my husband and three young daughters.”

Jessica advises newcomers to Salisbury-Rowan to “grab a Cheerwine and head downtown. You really need to drink a Cheerwine” to experience the flavor of Salisbury, she says. The downtown area is a unique experience with its thriving local businesses, restaurants, and arts scene. She describes the scene as “amazing shopping and awesome downtown boutiques that have wonderful things for any occasion.”

Your Rowan Favorites

Place to Eat:
Jessica: Go Burrito
Ben: Ichiban Japanese Seafood and Steakhouse
Outdoor Activity:
Jessica: Bell Tower Green
Ben: High Rock Lake
Event or Festival:
Jessica: Polar Express, N.C. Transportation Museum
Ben: Non-profit fundraisers