I am writing my Friday piece to you, our members and friends on Wednesday because I will be out of the office on Friday. We are preparing for meetings with companies looking for opportunity and expansion in their future. We are going to share what this region has to offer. But, I have the headlines in my head of the AK Steel announcement and how 230 families are now thinking about their future.

AK Steel, Armco, The American Rolling Mill all are the names that for the last 97 years have been an essential part of the economic fabric of Ashland and Northeast Kentucky. The announcement of the closing of the plant wasn’t a surprise but, was a sad day for all of us. Nearly five years ago, on my first visit to the Ashland Works facility, I could see what many of us knew. The facility was dated and didn’t look to be keeping up with the times.  Without the rolling mill, it was not as competitive as some other facilities. So, the time has come, and now we move on.

What I can tell you is this: we will not sit idly by and wait for change to come. We have already started the process of gathering the information, building the communication, and looking at the opportunity that is here today. There will be a rebirth in this region. Just as in 1922 someone said, “This would be a great place to build a steel mill,”  there is reason today for us to build on this legacy and find the next company that our workers and our area can help be successful.

You have heard our message for the last several years. We have competitive advantages to market to the world! Our people, place, and cost of doing business are attractive to others. We just have to find the audience and present who we are and how we can compete. This is happening already, and we will not rest on the successes we have had but will build on them to move past this loss.

I apologize for getting a little preachy in my remarks. I just want you to know this community is moving ahead. There will be days like this week but, there will be better days ahead. The Ashland Alliance, our partners and you expect nothing less.

Thank you for the chance to build a better community.

—Ashland Alliance