$500M plant coming to Berkeley County, W.Va.

CHARLESTON — Touting it as one of the largest economic projects in the state’s history, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Tuesday formally announced international manufacturing company Procter & Gamble will be constructing a new manufacturing plant in Berkeley County.

The plant will be at least 1 million square feet, residing on nearly 450 acres, in the Tabler Station Business Park in Martinsburg. The Berkeley County facility will be the company’s second new plant in the United States since 1971.

The announcement came after the culmination of more than a year’s worth of site visits and negotiations among Procter & Gamble, state representatives and Berkeley County representatives.

President of the Berkeley County Development Authority board Anthony Zelenka, left, speaks on the board’s journey to bring international manufacturer Procter & Gamble to Berkeley County as part of an economic project along with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin at a press announcement Tuesday in Charleston.

“For years, we’ve worked hard to create a business model that makes West Virginia an even stronger competitor for economic development investments, and companies around the world are noticing the changes we’ve made,” Tomblin said.

Procter & Gamble did not have a representative at the press conference.

However, the company issued a press release, stating that the plant is part of a redesign of its North American supply network. The release also said the upcoming facility is a multi-category manufacturing plant that will produce multiple P&G brands.

“This investment is about the future of P&G’s entire supply chain from sourcing raw materials to production and distribution,” said Yannis Skoufalos, P&G’s global product supply officer. “It integrates our valued external business partners and contractors as well as P&G employees.

“We look forward to working with our new partners in West Virginia, as well as being a good corporate citizen in the regions, for many years to come,” Skoufalos said.

Procter & Gamble’s initial investment in the project is $500 million. It is the fifth largest consumer product company in the world, as well as the second largest in the United States, and is ranked 26th on the Fortune 500 list.

Tomblin described the projected employment numbers and plant footprint as “conservative,” stating the project should create more than 1,000 construction jobs and 700 permanent, high-skilled jobs in the facility.

Representatives from the Berkeley County entities that worked together to bring the project to the county were present for the announcement, including representatives from the Berkeley County Development Authority, Berkeley County Council, the Berkeley County Public Service Water District, the Berkeley County Public Service Sewer District and legal counsel.

Stephen Christian, executive director for the development authority, said Berkeley County offered P&G many of the strategic advantages the company was looking for in a location, including easy access to Interstate 81 and a railway, as well as a large, contiguous parcel of land.

At the local level, the Development Authority began working with P&G to bring the company to the Eastern Panhandle in November 2013, codenamed Project Independence.

According to Keith Burdette, cabinet secretary for the West Virginia Department of Commerce, it was through coordinated efforts on state and local levels that brought the project to fruition.

“To say this is a highly coveted project would be a gross understatement. There is a tendency sometimes to think that these kinds of investments simply fall out of the sky, that P&G called one day and said ‘we want to put a half-billion dollar plant in your state, let’s plan an announcement.’ That’s not how it works,” he said.

“We competed against bigger, wealthier states with a lot more flat property than we had. But, because of the business climate that Gov. Tomblin and other leaders in the state work on improving, we knew from the beginning that we could compete,” he said, describing the news as a “world class announcement.”

Berkeley County began as one of more than 40 potential locations throughout the Northeast before being shortlisted as a top three, to the eventual chosen location. In its news release, P&G said the plant will be one of its most advanced and sustainable plants among its global manufacturing and supply-chain operations.

In addition to being proud Berkeley County achieved an economic project of this size, Anthony “Tony” Zelenka, president for the Development Authority, said knowing the company is Procter & Gamble adds to the excitement.

“This is a quality organization we’re dealing with, so without question, it’s great for the state of West Virginia and it’s wonderful for Berkeley County as well,” he said.

Several state elected officials also added their approval over the project and its potential benefits to the state and citizens.

In a press release, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey called the news “tremendous,” saying the county and state are an ideal location. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant also issued a welcome to P&G in a news release, saying the project highlights the economic growth of Berkeley County and hard work of its leaders.

In a statement, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., called the announcement an advancement for the county and state and for the citizens who will benefit from the job opportunities that will be made available.

“This is tremendous news for the hard-working people of West Virginia who deserve the opportunity for a good job, especially in the Eastern Panhandle wehre residents will have a change to work closer to home,” Capito said. “Procter & Gamble’s decision to build a major manufacturing facility at the Tabler Station Business Park speaks volumes about the potential of West Virginia’s manufacturing sector and the ened to invest in infrastrucre projects.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also added his approval of the announcement for the economic stimulation and job creation the facility will foster.

“It is great news for the residents of Berkeley County, the Eastern Panhandle and the entire state of West Virginia that Procter & Gamble plans to move forward with Project Independence, a vast manufacturing project that will create hundreds of new jobs, boost economic development and undoubtedly diversify the Mountain State’s economic landscape,” he said.

Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) said in a statement that he was pleased to welcome Procter &?Gamble to the region.

“This is great news for the people of the Eastern Panhandle who stand to benefit from tremendous economic growth as a result of this project,”?Mooney said.

Procter & Gamble and the governor’s office will be in Berkeley County for the groundbreaking ceremony in May. The plant is projected to open in 2017.

Staff writer Samantha Cronk can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 132, or twitter.com/scronkJN.

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