Company officials optimistic about move to Charles Town

June 21, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The effort to bring high-tech business to Charles Town continues to gain momentum.

A high-tech firm that specializes in production of computer software for telework operations has moved into a building downtown, and an official with the company said his firm could create up to 60 jobs.

Plethora Technology produces a software product called Perspective, which helps employees work from any location via computer.

Perspective allows workers to use any type of Internet connection and any computing device, according to information provided by the company.

Originally based in Columbia, Md., and founded about five years ago, Plethora Technology has been mostly focusing on product development, said chief executive officer Ben Martindale.


Now, the company is ready to begin building its sales and marketing operation, Martindale said. The company has the necessary funds because of $1 million it received from three venture capital firms, according to a company press release.

Plethora Technology entered into a partnership with the venture capital firms after working with the West Virginia Development Office and the Jefferson County Development Authority on its move to Charles Town, company officials said.

Plethora Technology employs four software engineers and has hired a financial consultant and a support services manager from the local area since moving to 215 W. Washington St. on May 3, Martindale said.

The company has 10 employees, but Martindale said it plans to have 20 in a year.

Martindale said he expects the company to have about 35 employees by its second year in Charles Town and 50 to 60 employees by the end of the third year.

Plethora Technology is leasing two floors above the Dream House furniture store, but will probably have to move out as it grows, Martindale said.

State and local economic development worked together to lure Plethora Technology to Charles Town and the Jefferson County Development Authority helped company officials in finding office space, the company press release said.

"The local community has provided valuable support at many levels in helping us to quickly establish our new base of operations," Martindale said.

County and local officials are behind an effort to attract well-paying, high-tech jobs to Charles Town by redeveloping an old commercial area in and around North Street.

Some local officials believe Charles Town has a unique opportunity to capitalize on such an effort because the town offers the ability to work and live in town, which is not always possible in bigger cities.

In April, a Charles Town attorney who has been involved in redevelopment efforts in town announced during a Charles Town City Council meeting that he intends to build a three-floor office complex along North George Street that will cost between $3.5 million and $4.5 million.

Peter Chakmakian, of First Charles Town Group Inc., said the office building probably will be between 26,000 square feet and 40,000 square feet and will be targeted for high-tech businesses.

The 2000 U.S. Census showed that 50 percent of Jefferson County's work force commutes outside the county for employment.

Of those surveyed, 50 percent said they would be willing to stay and work in West Virginia if job prospects were as strong locally, according to Plethora Technology officials.

"It's just what we were looking for," Peters said in reference to Plethora Technology's move to Charles Town.

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