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By: Owen Covington
MillerCoors will close its brewery in Eden — North Carolina’s largest brewery — in September 2016, economic development officials confirmed Monday.
“Today we made the difficult decision to close our brewery in Eden, N.C., in order to optimize our brewery footprint and streamline operations for greater efficiency across our remaining seven breweries,” said Fernando Palacios, chief integrated supply chain officer for Chicago-based MillerCoors.
The closure will affect 520 workers at the brewery, which opened in 1978 and is one of Rockingham County’s largest employers.
Rockingham County Manager Lance Metzger said after the company made the announcement to its employees, they were allowed to go home for the day to spend time with family.
MillerCoors expanded its Eden plant just four years ago with the addition of about 70,000 square feet of warehousing space, and at that time employed about 600 at the plant.
But the company said there is “significant overlap” in distribution between the Eden operation and its Elkton, Va., facility about 200 miles away, which is a newer brewery and “better suited geographically in relation to Northeast markets.”
The Eden plant is able to brew up to 9 million barrels annually and produces Coors Light, Miller Lite, Miller High Life, Miller Genuine Draft and Steel Reserve, as well as its Blue Moon seasonal brands and other specialty brands.
The Shenandoah brewery in Elkton was built in 2007 at a cost of $300 million, with an annual production capacity of 7 million barrels, according to MillerCoors.