Coca-Cola investing $13 million, adding 9 jobs in Lee

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A longtime Coca-Cola bottler is renovating its Bishopville operations and adding nine new jobs at the facility, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce and company officials.

South Atlantic Canners, a Coca-Cola production cooperative, announced Monday that it will be investing $13 million in its existing facility at 601 Cousar St. in Bishopville and making major site improvements. The capital investment in facility upgrades has already started and will occur during the next five years, according to Annette Karlinsky, office coordinator at the Bishopville plant.

A few of the nine new positions have already been filled, Karlinsky said, but some remain open. Most openings are for production mainline workers, she said. The plant currently has about 130 employees.

According to the Department of Commerce, the Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved a $75,000 Rural Infrastructure Fund grant to Lee County to assist with the costs of building expansion.

With four production lines at the Lee County plant, South Atlantic Canners produces canned and bottled products for Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, which is the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the U.S. The plant has been open in Bishopville since the 1970s.

Troy Santoscoy, Bishopville plant manager with South Atlantic Canners, hopes the investment will lead to more development in Lee County.

"This investment reinforces the commitment these Coca-Cola bottlers have to producing their products in Lee County and South Carolina," Santoscoy said. "It is my hope that the improvements to and expansion of the facility will have a positive impact on future economic development."

Gordon Eckley, chairman of the TheLINK Economic Development Alliance of Sumter and Lee counties and a member of Lee County Council, was also pleased with the expansion.

"This investment is a prime example of this region continuing to support business and industry," Eckley said. "Our No. 1 objective is to provide a viable business climate to expand, grow and create jobs for our citizens. We congratulate Coca-Cola's expansion and welcome the opportunity to continue a decades-long relationship with Lee County and the City of Bishopville."

Interested applicants for the new positions should visit the company's Careers page on its website, www.cokeconsolidated.com/careers, for more information.