When Berkeley Springs Instruments (BSI) was in search of a new location, a public-private partnership was formed with Allegany County Government, affording them the chance to remain in Allegany County and strategize for future expansion — all to the benefit of both the company and the community.
BSI has been in business for more than 35 years. They manufacture ultrasonic sensors used to monitor the health and integrity of pipelines. The process is done entirely in-house, with BSI staff designing, building, deploying, and monitoring the specialized devices once they are in use. BSI sensors are primarily sold in North America and have sales operations throughout the country, but all the manufacturing takes place in Allegany County, says President Gene Silverman
In 2018, BSI began searching for a larger facility as they were outgrowing their former home on Uhl Highway in Cumberland. Jeff Barclay, Director of Allegany County Economic and Community Development, connected with Silverman and discussed keeping BSI in the county.
“It’s amazing and fantastic that their development takes place here in Allegany County and then is put to use all over the United States,” Barclay says. “We knew BSI could do business anywhere they choose to, and we had this budding business right in our backyard. We wanted to try to keep them here.”
They found an ideal location in the new Frostburg Industrial Park on Hoffman Hollow Road. Barclay says the county wanted to help BSI ease the financial burden of moving into a new building and offered a lease-to-purchase opportunity for their space.
Allegany County’s Department of Public Works supported the effort by assisting in the engineering and design process, with DPW engineer Whitney Patterson serving as the project manager.
"It’s a very competitive market, so we have had to think of new ways to get projects completed"
Patterson says they began examining the plans in February 2020. Much of the design phase occurred virtually during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and construction started in October 2020. Public Works had previously assisted in economic development projects by offering engineering services for relocating businesses. “We can do a lot in-house, and that’s really helped out in Allegany County,” Patterson says.
“We did construction projects together before, but the case of BSI is a first for Allegany County,” Barclay says. “It was a public-private partnership from the beginning because of Gene’s desire to come to own the building. It was very creative. It’s a very competitive market, so we have had to think of new ways to get projects completed.”
Silverman recalled that the process went smoothly from start to finish, as good communication between the parties helped it progress.
According to Silverman, one of the primary factors that led BSI to select Frostburg as their new location was the desire to improve accessibility for the Frostburg State University students, whom they frequently employ. They regularly host recent Frostburg graduates as summer interns, says Silverman, and having a close-by location was convenient for both the students and BSI.
According to Silverman, BSI had a staff of ten employees at the outset of the relocation process. Presently, the team has expanded to approximately 40 members. Barclay asserts that the skilled labor force engaged by BSI “checks all the boxes for us.” Having a successful company already located in the Frostburg Industrial Park also makes it attractive to other potential tenants.
For its innovation, the project was honored as the Economic Development Project — Small Community category winner in the 2023 MEDA Awards, which recognizes outstanding economic development initiatives throughout Maryland.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” says Barclay.
Patterson says she is proud of the team for getting the plans together quickly despite the challenges presented in coordinating virtually. They also cultivated relationships with the City of Frostburg officials in the process.
“This was an Allegany County all-in-one project,” says Patterson. “We had county-owned property in the City of Frostburg and worked with public and private engineers. We all worked together on this project, and it was a joy to build relationships between the economic development and engineering sectors. The project that resulted is immensely beneficial for our community.”
Silverman says they are considering expanding their Frostburg property in the coming years, potentially leading to even more Allegany County jobs.
"We’ll have the resources we need to expand and contribute to the community"
“As long as we maintain good relationships with Frostburg State and the University of Maryland College Park, I think we’ll have the resources we need to expand and contribute to the community,” Silverman says. “We’re really excited about our relationship, and we see it improving. We’re excited to grow with Allegany County.”
“The sky is the limit for the future,” says Barclay. “BSI gives back. They’re a true community partner.”
Read more about other exciting projects in Allegany County here.