NEENAH, Wisconsin (From news reports) - Kimberly-Clark will move more than 250 positions in sales, marketing and executive management from Wisconsin to a new commercial center in Chicago, the company said Wednesday.
The move is expected to take effect in the first fiscal quarter of 2022, which begins in January.
The new Chicago facility will house the sales, retail and marketing teams for the company's North American consumer products that include such brands as Huggies and Kleenex.
Kimberly-Clark said in an email that more than 2,500 employees will remain in Wisconsin.
"Roles that are moving have been previously identified with individuals in those roles notified. They will be required to be in Chicago by mid-next year," company spokesperson Jessica Lutchen said via email.
The Neenah campus will become the North American Innovation, Technology and Supply Center, the company announced. Most of the relocated positions are based in Neenah.
K-C manufacturing sites in Wisconsin will not be affected by this change.
The new commercial center will be in a recently restored building in the Fulton Market area of Chicago, according to a press release from the city of Chicago.
Kimberly-Clark is qualified for a state of Illinois incentive program that supports companies making large-scale capital investments. If it does enter the incentive program, the company would need to meet job creation goals alongside the long-term investment. Chicago officials said in its press release that Kimberly-Clark is in conversations with Illinois about its eligibility.
The Chicago facility will help Kimberly-Clark with long-term growth by providing "access to people and partners with diverse experiences, skills and capabilities to grow our brands with world class commercial capability," Lutchen said via email.
Lutchen also noted the relocation will help K-C work more with marketing, digital, and technology businesses in the Chicago area.
But it comes at a cost to Wisconsin, which is still feeling economic pain from the pandemic.
"It is disappointing that Kimberly-Clark has chosen to move these jobs out of our Wisconsin, especially as our state is just beginning to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., said in an emailed statement. "WEDC is reviewing its contract with Kimberly-Clark to determine how this decision affects the company's eligibility for job retention tax incentives."
In July 2018, United Steelworkers Local 2-482 made concessions and approved an agreement with K-C to accept state incentives and keep the mill open. Then Gov. Scott Walker's administration and K-C struck a deal in December 2018: In exchange for up to $28 million in tax incentives, Kimberly-Clark would retain at least 2,400 jobs and invest up to $200 million in its Wisconsin operations over the next five years.
The announcement Wednesday coincided with a Kimberly-Clark news release reporting a change in executive leadership. Russ Torres from Kimberly-Clark Professional will become the group president of Kimberly-Clark North America. Torres succeeds Kim Underhill, who was with the company for 33 years.
Kimberly-Clark North America, based in Wisconsin, manufactures tissue and other paper products under such brands as Huggies, Kleenex, Cottonelle and Depend.