The small American rural city of Ashland appeared on our Smart21 list for the first time in 2007. Located in the mountains of southern Oregon, Ashland (population 22,000) has a seasonal economy built on forestry and, as home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, on tourism.
Both are seasonal businesses, so Ashland set out in 1997 to diversify its economy by building a metropolitan fiber network. The deployment went well: from 1997 to 2006, it helped add 517 businesses to a town of just over 10,000 postal addresses. New companies sprang up in e-commerce and audio books as well as such esoteric technologies as the handling of unexploded ordinance.Read more