MillerCoors plant in Eden to close

MillerCoors is closing a longtime facility in Eden, the first to brew Miller Genuine Draft, because of a prolonged sales decline and the plant’s proximity to another MillerCoors location in Virginia.

The plant’s closing in September 2016 will lead to about 520 people being laid off, said MillerCoors spokesman Marty Maloney. The company will help employees with “workforce training and job search assistance,” he said.

Since MillerCoors formed seven years ago, a joint venture of Molson Coors and SABMiller, volume has declined almost 10 million barrels, according to the company. The Eden brewery is the first announced closing since the joint venture.

The facility, which opened in 1978, is about 200 miles from the MillerCoors brewery in Elkton, Va.The proximity of the two presented the company with a “significant overlap in distribution,” the release said.

Last year, the Eden brewery produced 7.1 million barrels of beer, including Blue Moon seasonal beers, Coors Lite, Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft. Production of those beers will move to other MillerCoors breweries.

The closing will have a significant impact on Eden, which is about 100 miles northwest of Raleigh. Since the 1990s, Eden has lost thousands of textile jobs, and MillerCoors had the best-paying jobs left in town, said Mayor Wayne Tuggle.

He also expects to see a domino effect throughout the county, because of other companies that depended on the MillerCoors business.

“It’s devastating to us,” Tuggle said.