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Distribution center in Martinsburg to employ 140

June 13, 1998

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

STAFF WRITER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- S. Schwab Co. a Cumberland, Md., based manufacturer and importer of children's clothing, will build a $7 million distribution center in Martinsburg, local development authority officials said Friday.

The new plant will employ 140 workers when it opens next March, said Richard Wachtel, chairman of the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority. It will cover 187,000 square feet at the John D. Rockefeller IV Science and Technology Center, an industrial park at the local airport.

It's neighbors will be the Sino-Swearingen Aircraft Co., and TLM Aerospace, two new airplane assembly plants now under construction.

Ground will be broken next week, Wachtel said. The plant is expected to be finished by Jan. 1.

Overall, Schwab will invest more than $9 million in the venture, including building and equipment, Wachtel said. The company will pay Berkeley County about $100,000 a year in lieu of taxes, Wachtel said.

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According to a company press release, Schwab has been operating a clothing manufacturing plant in Cumberland since 1915.

The company makes children's clothing under the Ralph Lauren and Little Me label in its Cumberland plant.

Robert Crawford, executive director of the Berkeley County Development Authority, said Schwab has been handling the Ralph Lauren children's clothing line made domestically and overseas since 1994. The company expects to be the sole domestic manufacturer of Ralph Lauren children's apparel by next year.

The new warehouse will received clothes manufactured in domestic and foreign plants, sort and package them for distribution.

Crawford said West Virginia Gov. Cecil Underwood plans to get the industrial park declared a free-trade zone which would allow Schwab to take advantage of delayed duty payments.

"Under a free trade zone they wouldn't have to pay the duty on imports until they redistribute them," Crawford said.

The new plant will be a distribution warehouse only. "There will be no manufacturing," Wachtel said.

Schwab is leasing 27 acres from the airport authority, enough, Wachtel said, to eventually expand the plant to 340,000 square feet and nearly double the work force to 250 to 260, he said.

Schwab looked at sites in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland, including the Tri-State area, officials said.

Schwab spokesman Cliff Sumner could not be reached for comment Friday.

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