- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Officials with Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United are looking at expanding in Chattanooga.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/P0GCSK) reports the company is looking for land to build a new state-of-the art facility for distribution and sales. Officials say they want to invest $67 million in a 290,000 square-foot facility, which would add 43 new jobs over the next year.

The Chattanooga Coca-Cola plant opened over a century ago and was the first franchised bottler of Coke.

“Coca-Cola bottling began in Chattanooga. We’ve been here for 115 years and hope to grow here,” Darren Hodges, division vice president for Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Co., said in a statement. “But, we’re having a hard time finding industrial property in Hamilton County that can accommodate this expansion. We’re working through our final due diligence and hope to finalize our investment soon.”

Mayor Jim Coppinger voiced support for the project.

“This expansion project would keep Coca-Cola growing in Hamilton County and add family-wage jobs in our area,” Coppinger said “Everyone in the community, from individuals to small businesses, benefits from added jobs and the resulting additional income circulating in our local economy.”

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Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com