The West Edge Factory, located in Westmoreland, West Virginia on the outskirts of Huntington, dates from about 1930 when it was built to accommodate local cast iron and ceramic heater manufacturer A.F. Thompson. In the 1960s, Brooklyn-based clothing manufacturer Corbin, LLC, took over the factory; the company found success making flat-front men’s trousers, suits and sports coats, and other garments for both men and women that were sold throughout the United States. By 1988, Corbin’s annual revenues reached $50 million and the company employed over 1000 workers in its several southeastern West Virginia plants and outlet stores. But in the early 2000s, the company changed gears, abandoning its brand to become a men’s clothing wholesaler. In 2002, Corbin closed the Westmoreland plant and laid off its workforce before declaring bankruptcy the following year. Although another clothing manufacturer acquired many of Corbin’s assets, it declined to purchase the Westmoreland plant.
The Wayne County Economic Development Authority stepped in, buying the vacant building with an eye toward demolishing it and them improving the land in hopes of attracting new jobs- producers to the area. As the demolition budget reached ±$250,000, WCEDA sought to cut costs and benefit the community by inviting Coalfield Development to salvage any building materials that might be useful to Reclaim Appalachia. Coalfield Development’s staff noted the structure’s strong foundation, generous spaces and iconic role in the community fabric and began brainstorming adaptive reuse scenarios.
Coalfield Development cobbled together funding from a variety of sources to implement its vision for the former Corbin Factory. Coalfield Development intends a mixed use space occupied by a variety of for- and not-for-profit enterprises engaged in pursuits that advance what is emerging as southeastern West Virginia’s new economy: environmentally sensitive manufacturing and creative activities that draw on the region’s heritage of industry and craft.
In July, 2014 Coalfield Development purchased the building from WCEDA for:
- $110,000 and began stabilization and renovation work using the following sources:
- $150,000 in loan funds via Community Works, the local CDFI, presently in repayment;
- $450,000 in grant monies awarded by Art Place America, earmarked to create special event space;
- $50,000 awarded via the Diehl Family’s Social Enterprise competitive grants program, applied towards Reclaim Appalachia’s workshop;
- $50,000 in grant monies received from the United States Department of Agriculture, earmarked for the WeCan business space;
- $25,000 from One Foundation in the form of a grant funds to support building a solar training facility which, once the building’s renovation is complete, will leverage an additional $900,000 in capital investments from public and private sources.
All in all, the building sat vacant for about ten years. Although much work remains, the building now known as the West Edge Factory has begun to bustle, giving a glimpse of a bright future. Completing the project—readying it for tenants and community activities—entails additional capital improvements totaling about $2,227,500. Consequently, Coalfield Development has applied for a $1,782,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration bolstered by a $445,500 line of credit. This document explores the path to full occupancy and the building’s financial performance once complete.