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Berkeley Co. enjoys big economic week

May 06, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - West Virginia Gov. Cecil Underwood will help Berkeley County celebrate its economic success at a series of upcoming grand openings and ground breakings for new businesses in the Eastern Panhandle.

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Underwood will be in Martinsburg today for the grand opening of Quad Graphics new Parcel/Direct center and then will return to the Panhandle on Monday for the ground breaking of the new Orgill distribution center on Tabler Station Road.

The governor will wrap up his Berkeley County tour on Tuesday at the dedication center for S. Schwab Co.'s new distribution center near the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport.

The three companies are expected to create upwards of 500 new jobs in the county by next year.

"The Eastern Panhandle has been a catalyst for economic success statewide," said Tom Hunter, a spokesman for Underwood. "These three events are a true testament that the state's economic momentum is continuing."

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Quad Graphics plans to add 150 new workers by the end of the year to staff its new $34 million, 400,000-square-foot Parcel/Direct facility, said company spokeswoman Claire Ho.

The delivery system went into full operation last month and allows Quad Graphics to combine catalogs it prints with delivery of items in those catalogs, Ho said.

Quad Graphics currently employs 650 people who work at both Parcel/Direct and the company's 800,000-sqaure-foot printing facility next door.

The S. Schwab Co. already has 52 people working in its new Ralph Lauren Childrenswear distribution center that will be dedicated Tuesday, said Schwab Human Resource Manager Karen Sumner.

The company plans to begin shipping Ralph Lauren's fall 1999 clothing line later this month and will employ about 140 workers by July, Sumner said.

The 187,000-square-foot building will house three full-time shifts and one part-time shift to distribute merchandise to about 3,000 retailers across the country, she said.

Quad Graphics and Schwab both declined to comment on salary ranges for their workers.

A Tennessee-based hardware manufacturer will turn dirt on its new Berkeley County distribution center Monday at a ceremony on Tabler Station Road near Interstate 81.

Orgill Inc. plans to build a 477,000-square-foot plant that will employ up to 200 people. Construction on the new building is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The three projects, along with Sino Swearingen's new aircraft production plant and announced plans for a new facility being built by Ecolab, are key features in Berkeley County's economic future, said Berkeley County Development Authority Executive Director Bob Crawford.

Crawford, however, said the county must keep these projects in perspective.

"The big picture is that we've got to continue to bring in jobs of all types," said Crawford. "Jobs come in and jobs go out."

Crawford pointed to job cuts at several plants around the county, including General Motors and Corning.

"I'm thrilled with the five new projects we have, but that joy and enthusiasm is tempered by what's been lost," he said. "We need to continue bringing in more firms with good-paying jobs."

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