MARTINSBURG – As Berkeley County’s population has significantly changed over the past 20 years, so has the county’s business focus, transitioning from agriculture to industrial development.
While the county’s agricultural background is still prominently displayed through images, business names and school mascots, as the county’s population grew, so did the increase in commercial and industrial industries within the county.
“About 20 years ago we were about 50,000 (population), and now we’re pushing close to 110,000. We’ve doubled our population in approximately 20 years, which is a big deal. It certainly has changed the look and feel of Berkeley County from more (agriculture) to business,” said Steve Christian, executive director of the Berkeley County Development Authority.
While population has been a primary factor in attracting new industry, Christian said it is the combination of population and proximity to Interstate 81 that has driven the county to its current emphasis on industrial business.
“We’ve certainly paralleled the pattern of other communities that have a major transportation corridor that goes through the county,” Christian said.
Throughout the last 20 years, Berkeley County has housed multiple large corporations including General Motors, Orgill, EcoLab, Quad/Graphics, MAAX AKER plastics, Essroc and Macy’s.
“(Interstate) 81 is such a popular transportation corridor for logistics, warehouse and distribution, and we’ve benefited from that. The success stories from that go all the way back into the 1960s when 81 was completed and General Motors placed 2 million square feet for their parts distribution here,” Christian said.
Although the county’s industrial growth of warehouses and distribution centers has brought numerous jobs to the county, Berkeley County Council member Anthony Petrucci is not convinced that it is the only business development county entities should be pursuing…