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Coca-Cola to close Pinellas County plant, lay off 200 people

The soft drink company is the third manufacturer since Feb. 5 to announce it is closing a local plant and cutting jobs.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 5:15 p.m. February 13, 2024
  • | Updated 9:20 a.m. February 14, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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For the third time since Feb. 5, a manufacturer in Florida has announced it is closing a local plant and will lay off employees.

This time, it is Coca-Cola North America that's letting people go, saying it will shut down its manufacturing facility in Pinellas County and cut 198 employees.

The plant is at 427 San Christopher Drive in Dunedin.

With the closing, the number of job losses due to plant closings along the Gulf Coast announced in February has reached 317. Orlando-based Fence Outlet announced Feb. 9 that it was closing its Lake Wales facility and laying off 69 employees. And Pinellas County-based medical manufacturer BioDerm announced Feb. 5 it was ceasing plant operations in Largo, laying off about 50 people in the process.

In its WARN letter to meet federal requirements, Coca-Cola North America told state officials that the plant is scheduled to close May 31 with layoffs beginning April 5. All positions will be eliminated at that point. According to the letter, though, a few employees may stay on to help with the administrative duties required to close it.

But, in the letter, Coca-Cola left a little wiggle room on the timing, writing that the “announcement and timetable are based on the best information currently available.

“Various factors may still affect these plans and the timing of employee separations. Employees will be informed of any changes as additional information becomes available.”

The news is not entirely new, however. There were published reports in 2020 and 2021 that Coca-Cola was closing the facility, but it is unclear why that did not happen at the time.

In an email Wednesday morning, a Coca-Cola spokesperson wrote that the company will "transfer all volume to local third-party co-packer, Peace River Citrus" in Polk County.

"While these decisions are never made lightly, we believe Peace River has the right capabilities to support production of our brands and will put us in the best position for sustainable long-term growth. The transition will be completed by July 2024."

Also unclear is Coke Florida’s ties, if any, to the plant. It is not listed on the distributor’s website and the letter is from Coca-Cola North America. A Tampa-based Coke Florida spokesperson did not respond to an email from the Business Observer for comment. (Her voicemail was full and not accepting messages at 5:15 p.m. Feb. 13.)

Coke Florida, according to its website, sells products to more than 21 million consumers across 47 Florida counties.

This story has been updated to include a statement from Coca-Cola North America.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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