Mike Graese

Ashland City Manager Mike Graese speaks to Ashland Rotary Club members on Monday.

ASHLAND City Manager Mike Graese is ready for downtown Ashland to flourish, and he’s not about to be a hindrance.

“At the end of the day, it’s about getting this Destination: Ashland team together, and the city’s gotta get out of the way,” Graese said in the The Daily Independent’s conference room a couple hours prior to presenting his thoughts at the Ashland Rotary Club weekly meeting on Monday.

The focus of Graese’s speech was Roger Brooks’s “Shift Happens” presentation from earlier this month at The Delta Hotel by Marriott.

Brooks captured the city manager’s attention during his weeklong stay in the city. The downtown revitalization expert highlighted a bevy of key ingredients a city must possess in order to properly revive.

Graese agreed with the bulk of Brooks’s assessments and ideas.

“It wasn’t just charisma, it was common-sense stuff,” Graese said of Brooks’s thought offerings.

Graese said the city will soon assemble a Destination: Ashland team, which will feature millennials as Brooks suggested. Graese said the city hopes this group will have its first meeting in December.

Graese, the city manager since May 2017, said Brooks pointed to four establishments within what should be the city’s concentration area — 13th to 18th Streets — that any city of this size would want: The Delta Hotel, Paramount Arts Center, the Highlands Museum and the G.C. Murphy building restoration conducted by Dr. E.B. Gevedon.

“What are we trying to become?” is the question, Graese said, the people of Ashland must ask themselves.

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