New doings at the Morgantown Industrial Park mean solid jobs to come.
If you’ve drawn breath in Morgantown at all since last spring, you’ve heard rumors about something big happening at the Morgantown Industrial Park. It’s two big things, really, with more expected to follow.
The MIP is the large expanse across the Mon River from south Don Knotts Boulevard, home to the four iconic smokestacks of the former Morgantown Ordnance Works. Longtime tenants include a Central Supply concrete facility, WVU Hospitals United Linen Services, and SI Group, formerly Addivant.
The MIP is ideally situated, for an industrial park. It’s on the river, with barge access; it’s on the Norfolk Southern rail line, with a spur into the park; and it’s right beside Interstate 79—a flexible mix of shipping options tenants love.
Unfortunately, while the interstate is right there, the nearest interchange is three miles away—and MIP co-owner Glenn Adrian says interstate access is key. “You can bring your raw materials in by barge or by rail, but the finished product nine times out of 10 is going to go out by truck,” Adrian once told Morgantown magazine. “Nothing trumps interstate.”
But now, after several years of environmental, noise, and traffic studies and multiple designs and budgets, that access is about to improve. The proposal for a new Harmony Grove interchange, likely Exit 151, is well in process. “Our goal is to get the approvals this year and for the state to put it out to bid in 2022, with completion in 2023 or 2024,” Adrian says. One benefit for us all: far less heavy truck traffic in Westover.
That’s the first big thing. The second one is the container manufacturing facility you may have heard about—a 200,000-plus-square-foot aseptic packaging plant with ultra-pasteurization that extends dairy shelf-life without refrigeration. “We’re talking in the neighborhood of a $150 million investment, with employment close to 100 and growing from there,” Adrian says. “It will be the most modern packaging facility on the East Coast.”
MIP itself is investing $35 million in gas, electricity, fiber, water, and sewer infrastructure to accommodate the packaging facility and other new tenants that are expected to follow.
It all means jobs. “These are career-type jobs where people can get trained, be well-paid, have benefits, and work there until retirement,” Adrian says. “That’s the foundation of a community, and it’s really what the park’s all about.”
He notes the value of the diverse development along I-79 over the past 15 years. “Look at University Town Centre, WestRidge, the industrial park—within a 4-mile stretch, anybody who wants to locate in north central West Virginia, whether it’s tech-driven, retail, commercial, professional, or industrial, we’ll be able to accommodate any company that’s looking to come in and be a part of this community.”