By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Officials are hoping the new owner of the former Bluefield Beverage facility will use the building to bring manufacturing jobs to the area.
Margie Douglass, director of tourism and economic development for Tazewell County, said the building was sold at auction Wednesday to an anonymous buyer for an undisclosed sum.
Douglass said the Bluefield Beverage building has been empty since April 2012 when Kroger, the parent company of Bluefield Beverage, announced the closure of the facility and the Bluefield Kroger store.
“Kroger announced the closure on Jan. 27, 2012 and Bluefield Beverage ceased operations on April 27, 2012,” Douglass said. “The building has been vacant for over a year. There were 164 jobs tied to both the Kroger store and Bluefield Beverage and 110 employees at Bluefield Beverage were impacted by the closure.”
Douglass said she hopes the new owner will put the facility back to use.
“We would certainly like to see a company move in and start production as soon as possible, she said. “We would love to have some new job creation in this area. The town of Bluefield, Va., sold water from its water plant to Bluefield Beverage, and the closure impacted the town’s revenue. Any support businesses that supplied the company were also impacted.”
Marc Meachum, chief executive officer of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, said both sides of the state line would benefit if the facility were reopened for business.
“In an ideal world, someone would reopen it as a bottling facility because that is what it was designed for,” he said. “Otherwise, any productive use of that building that would put local people to work would be fantastic. It put more than 100 people out of work when it closed, so putting anyone back to work would be a good thing.”
Meachum said manufacturing jobs like the ones Bluefield Beverage provided are important to the local economy.
“We just hope to see a new business here,” Meachum said. “The manufacturing jobs like what we had at Bluefield Beverage are what this area needs.”
— Contact Kate Coil at firstname.lastname@example.org