2 industrial employers shutting plants in Md.

October 24, 2007|By Jamie Smith Hopkins and Allison Connolly | Jamie Smith Hopkins and Allison Connolly,Sun Reporters

Two industrial employers will be shutting down Maryland facilities next year, affecting about 80 jobs.

Coca-Cola Enterprises' 52-employee distribution plant in Frederick is closing by March after about 60 years at that location and more than a century in the county, the company said yesterday. In Salisbury on the Eastern Shore, Americhem Inc. - which makes colors and additives for the plastics industry - plans to close its facility by April.

The Coca-Cola Enterprises plant, at North Market and North East streets, is in a heavily trafficked neighborhood. County economic development director Laurie Boyer said it has been difficult for truckers to access the plant. A new residential development is slated to be built across the street from the plant, which she said may have been the final straw.

"I'm sure it was a difficult decision for them," said Boyer, whose staff will be offering training and job counseling to displaced workers.

Curtis Etherly, a spokesman for Mid-Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Co., a subsidiary, said growth constraints were the deciding factor. He said it's unclear how many employees will be laid off because the company is trying to transfer as many as possible. It has 10 other facilities in Maryland.

Ohio-based Americhem said in a statement this week that it will reassign the work done at its 29-employee Salisbury plant to other sites. It didn't specify where but noted that it is expanding plants in Concord, N.C., and Mansfield, Texas.

"Growth at these locations will help us better address the evolving needs of our clients, particularly those in the fibers and building products industries," Dave Bouton, an Americhem vice president, said in a statement.

Several of the Salisbury employees will probably transfer to other plants, the company said.

Frederick County's unemployment rate was a low 2.9 percent in August, the most recent local numbers. Wicomico County, which includes Salisbury, had a jobless rate of 3.6 percent.

Both counties' rates were better than the statewide average of 3.7 percent. The figures are not adjusted for seasonal variations.

jamie.smith.hopkins@baltsun.com allison.connolly@baltsun.com

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