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Designs for Ralph Lauren meet approval

June 15, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Planning Commission has approved preliminary designs for S. Schwab Co., the children's clothing distribution company that last week announced plans to open a $7 million Ralph Lauren clothing distribution center in Martinsburg.

Most of the 187,000 square feet for the plant will be warehouse space. About 10,000 square feet will be used as office space.

The company expects to employ about 140 people initially and hire more when the company expands.

"It's been an ongoing project for some time now and everything is working out well," Berkeley County Commissioner D. Wayne Dunham said Monday. "Of course, 140 jobs is going to give our people here more job selection and we appreciate it."

The center will break ground next week at the John D. Rockefeller IV Science and Technology Center.

Schwab spokesman Cliff Sumner said the company is consolidating two Ralph Lauren distribution centers in Allegheny County, Md., and moving the plant here. Some employees of those centers will likely take some of the jobs at the new plant, he said.

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A Little Me clothing distribution plant in Allegheny County will continue to operate, Sumner said.

Sumner said Martinsburg's cooperation was a major reason for bringing the center here.

"It was the full cooperation that we received through the local government representatives, all the way to the state level," Sumner said. "There were no issues that we came across that weren't easily resolved. We were very impressed."

A potential free-trade zone, which would allow the company to delay duty payments, was also a plus, he said.

A 144,000-square-foot addition is already being planned, which could add more than 100 additional jobs.

Schwab is the third corporation to move to Martinsburg in as many months.

In April, Guardian Fiberglass announced it would hire up to 150 workers for a Martinsburg manufacturing plant. Guardian bought the 700,000-square-foot former AT&T warehouse in 1997 and spent $30 million renovating it.

Last month, a Berryville, Va., manufacturer of honey, molasses, salad dressings and sauces moved into the last slot at the Berkeley County Industrial Park.

The Virginia Honey Co. Inc., owned by a native of Berkeley County, expects to finish construction of a 30,000-square-foot plant by September.

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