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Ashland to Move Headquarters from Covington to Delaware

Ashland, Inc. plans to move its heaquarters from Covington to Wilmington, Delaware.

The company made the announcement in an email to staff members Tuesday.

The company employs 48 people at RiverCenter.

It will also close its Lexington office, which employs 58 people.

In the announcement, Ashland said that its Covington headquarters would be substantially downsized over the next seventeen months. Some roles will be eliminated, others will be relocated to the new Delaware headquarters or Dublin, Oh. office, and fifteen positions will remain in Covington "for a time after the headquarters relocation to ensure efficient operation of the redesigned Ashland," the email said.

Ashland cited "quicker decision making, better collaboration across functions, and flexibility in sharing resources" in making its decision to relocate.

The Lexington office will be closed as of December 31, 2019.

The company said that site meetings were held in both Covington and Lexington to discuss the forthcoming changes, and that Ashland would provide enhanced severance benefits to those employees whose roles are eliminated.

"Decisions like this are always difficult, as they involve talented individuals who have contributed so much to Ashland over the years. Our company would not be where we are today without the commitment and support of these colleagues," the email said.

Ashland was founded in 1924 in Catlettsburg, Ky., near Ashland in Boyd County. It spun off its Valvoline business in 2015 and now focuses on specialized chemicals.

The company will maintain a presence in its native Kentucky, with 515 employees at its largest global manufacturing plant in the western Kentucky city of Calvert City.

The Ashland move will coincide with the loss of the IRS processing center in Covington, which is also expected by the fall of next year, which could cost the city as many as 1,800 jobs.

“We’re saddened and disappointed to learn of Ashland’s decision, and the blow to Covington will be large," said Covington City Manager David Johnston. "We lose tax revenue and the stature that comes with being home to a corporate headquarters, and RiverCenter loses one of its longstanding and most prestigious tenants. More than that, we lose an engaged corporate citizen whose values and employees have long been an intimate part of the fabric of our community."

Johnston said that even with the company's reduced business model of the last five years, Ashland has remained a strong presence in Covington and in Kentucky.

"Unfortunately, what we see today is yet another example of how corporate decisions beyond a community’s control can have big impact on that community," he said. "We will work closely with (RiverCenter owner) Corporex, (Corporex Chairman) Mr. (Bill) Butler and business organizations throughout the region over the next seventeen months to try to fill the hole left by Ashland.

"The good news is that the Covington of today is stronger, more vibrant, and more marketable than it was twelve to fifteen years ago, and it will be easier to sell to investors. We will continue to be aggressive in our economic development efforts to keep the city’s finances and economy healthy and focus on creating good-paying jobs for our citizens.”

In 2011, Covington lost two of its other prestigious employers and hundreds of jobs when Omnicare and A.C. Nielsen departed for new homes across the Ohio River in Cincinnati. Omnicare was also based in RiverCenter while Nielsen was located a block away at Madison Place.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Photo: RiverCenter (RCN file)