Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. announced yesterday that its sister company, Coca-Cola USA, has decided to join it at its new plant in Howard County -- boosting the number of anticipated workers by 250, to 750.
"This is a blockbuster not only for Howard County, but for all of Maryland," said Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of the state's Department of Economic and Employment Development.
"It's a significant victory that should give everybody heart about Maryland and its competitiveness."
While the state has worked closely with the companies to streamline the process of building the plant, Maryland is not providing any financial assistance, Mr. Wasserman said.
Coca-Cola USA will incorporate a new fountain syrup production and packing operation with the Coca-Cola Enterprises' planned bottling plant, which will be able to produce 60 million cases of soft drinks a year.
Construction of the 900,000-square-foot facility on 122 acres is scheduled to begin this summer and be completed by the fall of 1994 at a cost of $150 million, according to Katherine E. Whiting, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Enterprises.
Since Coca-Cola Enterprises announced in October that it would build a state-of-the-art facility in the Parkway Industrial Center in Dorsey, state economic development officials have eagerly anticipated the addition of the syrup and packaging facility.
Coca-Cola USA had been considering building a $60 million plant in Harford County. But the company allowed its option on a 30-acre site at the Riverside Business Park to expire after spending $3 million to study the site and design a plant.
Coca-Cola USA is a division of the giant Coca-Cola Co. of Atlanta that produces syrup and other products.
Coca-Cola Enterprises is a separate publicly traded company based in Atlanta that bottles and distributes 53 percent of the Coke products sold in the United States. The Coca-Cola Co. owns 44 percent of Coca-Cola Enterprises' stock.
After completion of the new Howard County plant, the Coca-Cola syrup facility on East Fort Avenue in Baltimore will be closed, but the 120 workers at the plant will be given first preference for jobs at the new Howard County operation, Ms. Whiting said.
The new plant will provide Coke products in bottles and cans to the region between northern Virginia and south-central Pennsylvania, Ms. Whiting said.
Syrup distribution will be wider, including that area plus New York, the rest of Pennsylvania and Virginia, she said.