New life for old Ashland mill

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Friday, February 01, 2008

CromanMIllAshland.jpg The old Croman Mill site in Ashland is the teardrop-shaped area to the left of the railroad tracks near the bottom of this early 1960s photo.

ASHLAND A long-defunct lumber mill in Ashland may be on its way to becoming:

A. A humming high-tech business center
B: A home for low-impact industries
C: A mixed-use development
D: Some combination of the above

It may be a little early to choose, but one thing is certain: The wheels have begun to turn on a process that will bring new life to a long-idle island of industrial land in Ashland.

“The whole process is designed to look at all of these ideas and not really rule any of them out,” says Maria Harris, planning manager for the city of Ashland.

Harris is talking about a master planning process recently kicked off for the old Croman Mill site, a 65-acre wedge of land that’s been empty since the mill closed its doors in 1996. It is the largest remaining piece of industrial property in Ashland.

Last year, the city received a state grant to jump-start the process, which will include stakeholder meetings, public workshops and, ultimately, city adoption of a redevelopment scenario later this year.

While there has been talk of affordable housing or mixed-use developments, Harris says the primary purpose of the site is employment generation.

Sandra Slatterly, executive director of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, says the site seems like an ideal place for recruiting progressive industries attracted to Ashland’s educated populace, high-speed fiber-optics network and cultural amenities.

“We really see [the site] being reserved for industrial uses, but not necessarily traditional industries,” she says. “We see that it could be a dynamic space for smaller, cleaner businesses.”                                                                              

JON BELL


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Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

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This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

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