Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 31, 2013

New owner of Bluefield Beverage building hopes to bring jobs to area

KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, Va. — A Mercer County businessman is hoping to help bring new jobs to the area after purchasing the former Bluefield Beverage facility.

Leland Blankenship said he purchased the facility in the hopes of leasing it to a company that would create local jobs. Blankenship is the former owner of Bluefield Retread Company.

“I bought it as an investment,” Blankenship said. “I have some ideas for it. We want to put it for sale or for lease. A lot of people have expressed an interest in the facility. We have been in talks with a Fortune 500 company that I have had dealings with in the past. I am hoping a company will move in and create jobs. Everyone is so interested in this facility especially because of the jobs it could bring.”

Blankenship bought the facility at an auction on July 24. The building has been vacant since April 2012 when Kroger, the former owner, announced they were closing the facility and terminating the employment of the 110 individuals who worked there.

The facility still needs to be emptied before any new ventures can move in, Blankenship said.

“I am working on moving out the equipment in the facility, which was bought by a different buyer at the auction,” Blankenship said. “Kroger moved out a lot of the equipment to their plant in Texas when they closed the facility. I will be waiting until all the equipment is moved out before I can really market it.”

Blankenship said the site has a lot of potential for growth.

“The place has so much potential, is in a great location, and has the right infrastructure,” he said. “I have been working with the town of Bluefield, Va., to market it, and they have been great. There are a lot of people who want to see something positive come out of this.”

Blankenship said a new business opening in the site would be a win-win situation for everyone involved.

“I want this to be good for the community and the local economy,” he said. “It’s a fabulous facility with a lot of amenities. Anyone who can use a facility like this can create a lot of really good-paying jobs with benefits for the people in this area. I want people to know it’s available. We want to bring what is best for both us and the community to this facility.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com