Company brings $18 million investment to Auburn


OPELIKA — Last week, the city of Auburn welcomed in a new $18 million investment.
Known world-wide, the name Coca-Cola is likely familiar to all Auburn residents. But now, it will strike a little closer to home.
The Auburn Coca-Cola Bottling Company broke ground on its new facility last week, which is expected to open in 2025.
“Auburn Coca-Cola Bottling Company will sit on approximately 15 acres off West Veterans Boulevard and include a sales center, warehouse and office space,” said a press release from the city of Auburn. “The facility will serve as a hub to distribute products to customers and communities throughout Chambers, Coosa, Elmore, Lee, Macon, Randolph, Russell and Tallapoosa counties, as well as Troup County in neighboring Georgia.”
Allen Buffington, Auburn Coca-Cola Sales Center manager, opened the groundbreaking last Tuesday.
“We are so excited,” he said. “This is a big, momentous occasion for Coke United, for the city of Auburn and for myself personally, because like I said, I was born here.”
Buffington said that the facility will strive to serve people personally.
The facility was originally supposed to be located in West Point, Georgia.
“Last March, the company’s West Point facility was impacted after a severe storm moved through the area,” the city’s press release said. “Coca-Cola UNITED was already assessing long-term needs prior to the storm and had begun looking for nearby locations to build a larger and modern facility to serve the company’s business goals for the future.”
Buffington thanked the city for all its help in the move and transition.
“We’re not only here to celebrate this great groundbreaking but we’re really here to celebrate our associates,” said Mike Suco, Coca-Cola United president and CEO. “You heard the story from Alan about what they’ve been through, but also to celebrate our partners and our friends who have been so gracious to allow us to come into this market and be a part of it.”
All of the employees at the West Point facility were transferred to the Auburn facility. The facility will offer 75 new jobs for area residents.
“We also believe in the long term vision, we want to be here for the next 50 years, that’s our goal, and beyond that,” Suco said.
Suco said this location will be sort of the “center” of things.
“The way we operate, is we want to be local,” he said. “So, this is the Auburn sales center and everything that needs to happen in this market is really controlled out of this facility.”
It will serve six counties, not just Lee County, Suco said.
“As all of you know, Auburn is a very, very special place,” said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders. “And we take pride in the quality of the companies that choose to come to Auburn and what it means for local jobs and our local quality of life. This Coca-Cola Center is an excellent match for the Auburn family and I’m proud to be here today to welcome all of you.”
Anders said the facility is an $18 million investment in Auburn.
“Auburn Coca-Cola is a significant part of the United family growth plan and this is a great investment for us as we advance our business throughout the state of Alabama,” said Coca-Cola United Central Region Vice President Ernie Merritt.
Following the ceremony, the Coca-Cola United executives, the audience and city personnel shared a coke toast to mark the occasion.