Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Coca-Cola to state: 49 face layoffs

Plans for landmark soda bottle, Frederick warehouse still in works

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Coca-Cola Enterprises officially filed for layoffs of 49 employees at its Frederick warehouse, though a company spokesman says the soft-drink giant is still optimistic that many workers will be relocated to its Hagerstown location.

With 100 years of history in the city, the Atlanta company announced in November it would shut down its 21,000-square-foot distribution center at 1205 N. Market St. The location is on track to close by the end of next month, said spokesman Curtis Etherly Jr.

At the time, Coca-Cola had announced the closure to employees, but had not announced definite layoffs. On Dec. 28, the company gave the state its required 60-day notice of mass layoffs or plant closings.

Coca-Cola also notified Frederick County Workforce Services, which has been working with the company since November to help workers make job transitions. This past month, the agency has been working more closely with the company, said Stacie Clark, the agency’s career resource manager.

‘‘We can help the folks with their job search, with computer skills and job-hunting skills and tools,” Clark said Tuesday. ‘‘We can help them with their résumé. ... For those folks who are thinking they might want to upgrade their skills or up to a more challenging career, we have training scholarships.”

Etherly said plans are still in the works for the large Coca-Cola bottle, a landmark on the roof of the building that has been removed. It will likely be moved to another facility such as the one in Hagerstown, he said. No decision has been made regarding the building.

The plant closure was necessary, Coca-Cola officials said, because truck traffic has increased but the warehouse has little room to accommodate more vehicles or expand. Each week the plant has roughly 75 large-vehicle visits, from both 18-wheelers dropping off products at the plant and smaller delivery trucks.

Instead, the company is shifting its anticipated growth to other locations around Maryland.