Friday, April 23, 2021

Honoring the past, anticipating the future: JRA

JRA celebrates 30 years

by Clara Rice, Director of Communications, JRA

“Every minute of every day, somewhere in the world, we are creating a smile, engaging a mind, or touching a heart.” – Jack Rouse

In 1987, friends Jack Rouse and the late Amy Merrell founded Jack Rouse Associates, primarily targeting the corporate trade show market. Thirty years later, under the leadership of CEO Keith James, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based company (now referred to as JRA) provides attraction master planning, design, and project management services for entertainment, brand, cultural, and sports clients around the world.

Over the last 30 years, JRA has seen design styles evolve, technologies advance, and hairlines recede (or disappear altogether). But what hasn’t changed is the company’s commitment to creating story-based experiences that resonate with visitors. “It’s no coincidence that a lot of the staff here have theater backgrounds, because the same rules of engagement apply,” said COO Dan Schultz. “Our reputation for developing experiences from the audience’s perspective is part of what has kept us around for so long. That, and the fact that we happen to love what we do.”

The JRA-designed Kodak Experience Center. Images courtesy of JRA.

As impressive as its past achievements may be, the studio is most excited about what lies ahead. The next 12 months promise to be busy ones for JRA, with projects dotting the globe across a wide range of markets. Upcoming openings include:

• Children’s Enlightenment Space – Beijing, China (November 2017)

• Appleton Estate Rum Experience – Siloah, Jamaica (January 2018)

• American Airlines’ C.R. Smith Museum – Dallas, Texas (June 2018)

• Kodak Experience Center – Rochester, New York (October 2018)

• National Comedy Center – Jamestown, New York (Coming soon)

JRA has also recently been attached to two highly anticipated theme park projects: Lionsgate Movie World in Jeju, South Korea, and a major movie studio theme park in China.

While JRA sees the diversity of the studio’s portfolio as one of the secrets to its success, James and Schultz know that it would not be what it is today without the dozens of team members who have touched its projects, and the millions of visitors who have been touched by them. “This industry, and this company, would not exist without the people who support it tirelessly day in and day out,” said Keith James. “I personally, and the company as a whole, have had the good fortune to work with some of the best in the business, creating not just attractions, but lifelong friendships and memories.”

With a bright future on the horizon, James can look back with pride on what the JRA team has accomplished. “Pardon the pun, but this is a roller coaster of a business. And we’re sure enjoying the ride.” •

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