Coca-Cola will keep Northampton plant operating ‘at least’ through 2023, continues hiring

February 21, 2023 0 Comments

NORTHAMPTON — Coca-Cola will keep its factory on Industrial Drive — the largest industrial plant in Northampton — open at least through 2023 and is hiring for the plant.

“We will fill open positions when needed,” said spokeswoman Ann L. Moore. “As we have been with existing employees throughout this process, we are being transparent with applicants regarding the plant closing, and we are noting that severance will be provided.”

Coca-Cola has about 300 employees at the plant making non-carbonated beverages such as juice, tea and Vitaminwater, Moore said.

Coca-Cola announced back in August 2021 that the factory would close in the second quarter of 2023 and at the time, then-Mayor David Narkewicz was told the plant would only be open through June 2023.

Moore didn’t explain the company’s reasoning for delaying its departure.

A search of the hiring website Indeed showed 22 open jobs at the Coca-Cola plant in Northampton, including warehouse managers, palletizers, forklift drivers, quality control and production supervisors on both the day and night shifts.

Coca-Cola’s history in Northampton goes back at least to 1956 when the Northampton bottling operation, then located on King Street, was purchased by the Griggs family.

Alfred L. Griggs, who headed the family-run operation, sold Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northampton in 1992 to Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of New York. It had moved to the industrial park in the early 1980s, making it the first plant situated there.

In 1992, Griggs told The Republican there had been 2,400 bottling plants in America in 1975, a number that dwindled to only 730 when he sold the business. At that time, according to Griggs, the 10 largest Coca-Cola bottlers controlled 85% of the market.

Coca-Cola USA, a division of the Coca-Cola Co., bought the former Mid Atlantic Canners Association plant at 45 Industrial Dr. in 1995 for $5.2 million. In its first year, it produced beverages there like Fruitopia, Minute Maid juices and Nestea iced teas.

A $50 million expansion project was completed by Coca-Cola North America a decade ago. It resulted in the creation of 100 new jobs, boosting employment at the plant to more than 300.

In recent years, the 455,000-square-foot plant has been producing noncarbonated products like Powerade, Gold Peak and Vitaminwater.

The factory is assessed at $17.7 million according to city records. That’s one of the highest industrial valuations in the city, roughly equal to the assessment of defense contractor L3Harris on Prince Street.

Coca-Cola is also the city’s largest water and sewer customer with a water bill of about $1.76 million a year. The water system is only a $7 million-a-year operation in Northampton.

The Coca-Cola sewer bill, meanwhile, is $1.92 million. The city spends about $6 million a year to run its sewer system.

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