‘Get the shovels out’

Ground broken for new building at Business Park

A project that was years in the planning stage took its first steps to becoming reality on Thursday, October 20th, as ground was broken for a 24,000 SF multi-tenant building at the Bedford County Business Park I.

Jim Gonsman, chair of the Bedford County Development Association (BCDA), in welcoming local business leaders and elected officials, noted that planning for the project began in 2018.

“Five years later we’re ready to get the shovels out,” he said.

Bette Slayton, BCDA president and CEO, echoed Gonsman’s excitement.

“We’re here. We’re doing it, ” she exclaimed.

Slayton said the project grew out of a needs assessment launched because the BCDA was receiving numerous inquires from both local and outside businesses, and “We couldn’t accommodate prospects looking for building space. We had no space to meet their needs.”

At that point the BCDA board decided to move ahead with plans for a 12,000 SF building with a $1 million budget. Since then it has grown into a 24,000 SF endeavor with a budget of $6 million.

Slayton pointed to three key developments along the way:

  • A $500,000 grant secured with the help of state Senator Wayne Langerholc Jr. in 2018 that was used to help secure additional federal funding.
  • The decision by local manufacturer Cell-Con, Inc, which makes battery packs and power systems, to locate a 15,000 SF facility in the new building to be an anchor tenant.
  • The help of Langerholc and state Rep. Jesse Topper to obtain an additional $750,000 in state funding after the COVID-19 pandemic created supply chain issues that threatened the budget for the project.

The next step, Gonsman said, will be a meeting in early December, with actual construction to begin shortly thereafter. Slayton said in April that construction was expected to take about a year.

It was a bittersweet afternoon for Langerholc, one of the driving forces behind the project, who was a “victim of redistricting” and will no longer represent Bedford County.

“It’s definitely a sad day for me,” he said.

Still, he was effusive in his praise for Slayton, who he said, “Moves heaven and earth really. It’s in her blood.”

Topper said pushing the project along was a combined effort of local lawmakers, something that doesn’t always happen.

“It shouldn’t come as a shock that politics can be a little bit territorial,” he said.

Still, he said the business part represented “A truly unique situation and we’re thrilled to be able to do that.”

Among other officials in attendance were state Senator Pat Stefano, the incumbent in the 32nd district of which Bedford County will be a part beginning in December, and Bedford County Commissioner Deb Baughman.

Slayton extended thank yous to the BCDA board members and local municipal officials, and BCDA board member Jeffrey Crist, owner of Gatter & Diehl, Inc. engineering, who spent much effort on meetings and planning sessions.

An artist’s rendering of the 24,000 SF multi-tenant building to be constructed at Lot 24 of the Bedford County Business Park I.