The bad news came first: Miller Brewing Company (known as MillerCoors), the third-largest employer in all of Rockingham County, was going to close its doors.
It didn’t. Not exactly. But now the company is locked in legal battles that could determine the economic future of the whole county, and definitely of Eden, the small town on the beautiful Dan River that MillerCoors has called home for 38 years. New developments in those cases are happening this second. So Eden’s in quite the lurch.
The thought of a MillerCoors departure sent waves of panic through the community last September, and they’ve spread ever since. Employees rallied in an attempt to stop the process. The state got involved, working with the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate possible violations of antitrust laws (Anheuser-Busch merged with MillerCoors right before the Eden closure announcement).
Then came more bad news: MillerCoors went through a round of layoffs in early June, costing 85 people their jobs.
But (here’s the better news!) that was before the Teamsters stepped in. As of last week, General President James P. Hoffa is officially asking the court to support Eden. He says,
"Forcing the sale of the dormant Eden brewery will help address anticompetitive effects of this merger, restore confidence in our country's antitrust enforcement and put people back to work in North Carolina. We urge the court to exercise its authority in this case."
But wait, there’s more! As of October 11th, more surprise news may turn the tide again: Molson Coors now owns MillerCoors (confusing, we know), making the company technically international, with headquarters in both Denver and Montreal. And it seems pretty possible that company owners way up in Montreal might not care much about what happens in little ol’ Eden, North Carolina.
Then again, they might. All this is a microcosm of a larger issue: how North Carolina citizens are employed. As we discussed in our blog on Kannapolis, our state’s economy is slowly but surely shifting away from manufacturing, and toward…what, exactly? More conglomerates? More international firms?
In Kannapolis, the answer was more research sciences. But in Eden, like in much of our state, the future is still uncertain.
We’ll keep you posted on developments in Eden as they unfold. But in the meantime, ask yourself: Where would you like to see our state grow in the 21st century? Where are we going from here? Eden, for one, would like to know the answer.
At NCCFH, one way we’d like to see our state change involves healthcare costs. They’re entirely too high, and we want to do something about it. If you agree, join us. We’ll send you updates about economic and health news and legislation that affect YOU as a North Carolina citizen.