A group of local business and community leaders are leading a major grassroots effort to help transform downtown Ashland, Ohio. The group of leaders include Scott Donley, Bill Sample, David Lee, Seth Gasche, Paul Smith, Andrew Bush, John Sidle and Kris Hovsepian. They’ve formed a non-profit called Ashland Schine’s which will tackle a $4 Million project to restore Ashland’s theater over the next 4 years.
Here’s an excerpt from the full story in the Ashland Times-Gazette on Friday, April 10:
… Ashland Schine’s also will acquire the 1,100-square-foot space that currently houses RSVP Party Rentals. [David] Lee said that space will be renovated into a restaurant connected to the theater that can be utilized for dinner-and-a-show packages.
The organization believes the restoration of the theater has the potential to rejuvenate Ashland’s downtown. Similar-sized theaters have been restored in Lockport, New York, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Lee said the Ashland group plans to follow their renovation models.
“They’ve given us a step-by-step of how to make it successful, make it run and be self-sufficient and everything, so we’re copying proven methods,” Lee said.
Lee added that the members of Ashland Schine’s have put a lot of thought and planning into the project.
“Ashland has got its portion of naysayers that say nothing can ever be done, it’s a waste of time, but we have proven stats from similar-sized towns showing how it resurrected the economy of that town,” Lee said. “We’re not just going out on a limb thinking that we’re trying this to see if it’s going to work. We know it’s going to work.”
Positive change is sometimes hard to see, especially when you’re too close to it. It’s probably even tougher when you’ve been here for generations and remember better days. Many remarkable things are happening beneath the surface in this city. It’s like seeds planted in good soil. Not much to see yet, but those doing the planting know what’s coming.
The Archer Auditorium opens next week. This summer we celebrate the Bicentennial at a parade on Main Street, lined with newly-planted trees. Two new schools open next fall. All impossible without generous people who see what can be, and were willing to invest in planting seeds.
You won’t see it in a run-down theater, but you’ll sense it in the amazing plans being laid by leaders committed to bringing it back to its former glory. You won’t see it in an empty downtown building, but you’ll hear it in the lunch conversations of passionate citizens who are launching businesses to fill those spaces.
My small business has a vision to empower small business success that transforms communities. Nine of our thirteen employees live in Ashland. Several moved their families here from bigger cities, buying homes and getting involved in this community because they see that same potential. Every local business we serve can be a catalyst for positive change, and it’s something we take very seriously.
As we celebrate 200 years, let’s remember past leaders who built Ashland, support today’s leaders who are generously planting seeds; and nurture future leaders who will sustain positive change.