MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — In West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, the Berkely County seat of Martinsburg is taking stock of its potential and attracting entrepreneurs and business investors.
It is in the center of West Virginia’s fastest-growing region, and investors are seeing its potential by opening their checkbooks for properties that will add to the growth.
“The common thing I keep hearing people say is that we’re here from other areas: ‘Wow, you know I drive through this area all the time and I never realized how beautiful some of these buildings are,'” said Robby Blair with Main Street Martinsburg.
Employers can be in all of those buildings. Even small investments like a local mom-and-pop shop can bring larger ones.
“We’re starting to see businesses now, people coming in and investing in downtown properties to open up different types of businesses little boutiques, bridal shops, coffee shops, new restaurants,” said Mayor Kevin Knowles. “A lot is happening here in Martinsburg.”
To lure even more capital, Blair and Mayor Knowles are resorting to the personal touch.
“You know we work very closely with the nonprofits, the local businesses, and also investors coming into the city of Martinsburg,” said Knowles. “I personally — myself – as mayor, want to work with each and every one of them, want to meet them, want to shake their hand.”
Growing the residential base downtown is a key strategy with more housing.
“We want more folks to live downtown,” Blair said. “We want it to be a place where you can live, shop, have fun — you know, do all the things you would otherwise do elsewhere. And we’re getting there.”
Community events are becoming a big draw. The recent fall food truck festival here was such a success that restaurants and retail stores were packed. And Mayor Knowles says that as we, hopefully, turn the corner on the pandemic, more people will be getting out and he wants Martinsburg to be their “go-to” destination for dining, shopping and fun.