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Economic slump affects Berkeley County Development Authority

May 11, 2001

Economic slump affects Berkeley County Development Authority



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


A slowdown in the national economy apparently has led to a slowdown in the number of potential businesses that want to locate in Berkeley County, officials said Wednesday.

"That's my read on it," Berkeley County Development Authority Executive Director Bob Crawford said following the monthly meeting of the authority.

He told other members of the authority that the development office is receiving fewer phone calls from businesses expressing interest in moving to Berkeley County.

"Prospect activity has slowed somewhat," he said during the meeting. "In talking with my counterparts in other states, they've said the same thing - that it's slowed down."

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He expanded on his remarks after the meeting.

"Where we were getting three or four prospects a month, now we're not getting that many," he said. "We're still having some interest shown on having prospects come in, but it is not as busy as it was."

With an uncertain economy, businesses are more reluctant to make major changes such as relocation, he said.

The same slowdown was not noted by real estate broker Greg Ahalt with King Street Realty.

"I haven't seen any slowdown at all," said Ahalt, who said about 80 percent of his work involves residential real estate sales and 20 percent commercial. "The lights have been burning bright in our office pretty late recently."

Ahalt said the difference is understandable.

"It's two different markets when you're talking residential and when you're talking commercial," he said.

Crawford also reported he is working on several ongoing projects, including one to try to help Alliance Aircraft of Portsmouth, N.H., move to the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport.

He told authority members that company officials hope to have one piece of financing secured by the end of this week. Members of the company have visited China once and are going again to try to gain the financial backing from sources there that will be a key to enabling the company to build commuter jets in Berkeley County.

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