Delaware gives Ashland company new money to build jobs

The Delaware Council on Development Finance on Monday endorsed a proposal to provide up to $10 million over five years for Ashland, Inc., the company that acquired Hercules in 2008.

The funding would be based, in part, on the number of new Ashland jobs that come to Delaware. A portion of the money would also be used for an estimated $50 million overhaul of the Ashland research center on Hercules Road, west of Wilmington.

Delaware Economic Development Office Director Alan Levin said the program is a innovative approach in bringing jobs and investment to the state as Ashland ramps up research and development, while streamlining its organization. The state has traditionally made grants and loans on a one-time basis.

Ashland representatives told the council that no assurances can be made about jobs coming to Delaware, but added that the approach puts the state in a better position when business decisions are made.

Employment at Ashland has remained at around 500 since the acquisition of Hercules. Job cuts in some areas, such as corporate services, have been offset by gains in other categories.

Ashland continues to grow with the acquisition of International Specialty Chemicals, a New Jersey company that at one point attempted to take over Hercules.

The council recommended a financial package of slightly less than $500,000 for SevOne, a Pike Creek-based software company with a customer base that includes companies with large computer networks. Funds would be used to add jobs in the state. The company, founded by University of Delaware computer scientists, has total employment of more than 120

The council recommended issuing up to $20 million in revenue bonds for Delaware Military Academy charter high school near Newport. The bonds are issued in the name of the state, but are sold to investors.

Proceeds would be used for acquisition of the school property as well as expand the school. The school receives some financial support from the United States Navy and primarily serves students in the Red Clay School District.

Recommendations from the council go to the director of the Delaware Economic Development Office.

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