Statewide: Triad region, November 2015
North Carolina’s beer industry is booming, but don’t tell that to the folks in Eden. MillerCoors plans to shutter its Rockingham County brewery by next September, cutting 520 jobs. It’s a tough blow for Eden, where Miller Brewing opened the plant in 1978. MillerCoors is the largest private employer in the city of about 15,500 residents. But big brewers are consolidating, while hundreds of new entrants are flooding the market to meet demand for local varieties. MillerCoors is owned by Molson Coors Brewing and South Africa’s SABMiller, which has a tentative $104 billion deal to be acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev. The Eden plant brewed 7.1 million barrels of beer in 2014, including Blue Moon, Coors Light and Miller High Life. Work will shift to seven other breweries, but primarily to Shenandoah, Va., about 200 miles away. It is MillerCoors’ newest brewery and closer to key northeastern markets.
Eden’s pain comes as craft brewing explodes, siphoning customers who had picked Budweiser, Miller or other dominant brands. Miller-Coors said annual volume declined by 10 million barrels over the last seven years, citing in part the “explosion of choice and fragmentation within the beer business.” Craft beers’ market share doubled to 11% over five years, according to the Brewers Association trade group. It’s still a lopsided fight: MillerCoors produces more than 55 million barrels annually, according to trade publication Beer Marketer’s Insight. One hundred and one craft brewers in North Carolina made about 372,000 barrels last year, the brewers’ group says.
Eden hopes the 1,600-acre MillerCoors campus can prove attractive to potential users, says Jan Critz, Rockingham County’s director of economic development and tourism. It has powerful people in its corner — Sen. Phil Berger, arguably the state’s most influential politician, lives in Eden.
GREENSBORO — Qorvo will invest $25 million and create 100 jobs at a new 150,000-square-foot research and development center. The new jobs will pay an average annual salary of $80,000, higher than Guilford County’s $43,642. Started here in 1991 as RF Micro Devices, the semiconductor company employs more than 1,400 people in the area.
WINSTON-SALEM — Wade Reece, chairman and CEO of BB&T Insurance Holdings, will retire Dec. 31 after 37 years at BB&T. John Howard, CEO of the wholesale and specialty division, will replace him. The Raleigh-based subsidiary is the fifth largest insurance broker in the U.S. Also, BB&T will acquire a 16.9% stake in United Kingdom-based Miller Insurance Services through a partnership with Willis Group Holdings.
WINSTON-SALEM — Reynolds American will sell international rights to its Natural American Spirit brand cigarette to Japan Tobacco Group for $5 billion in cash. The deal is slated to close in early 2016. Also, the No. 2 U.S. tobacco company consolidated production of its VUSE electronic cigarettes at its Tobaccoville plant, ending its contract at a Kansas plant.
GREENSBORO — Cone Health is proposing a $173 million expansion. If approved by the state, the system based here will relocate 23 beds and four operating rooms from its Women’s Hospital to the main Cone campus. Plans also call for renovating operating rooms at Wesley Long Hospital, cutting the number from 14 to 10.
MADISON — Remington Outdoor will lay off 41 people by Dec. 10. Affected jobs include managers and other administrative positions. Remington employs about 200 people in Rockingham County.