by: WILSONVILLE SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO - Coca-Cola held a lavish party in June 2010 to celebrate the opening of its 200,000-square-foot expansion in Wilsonville, which now may house the company's Eugene operations.Coca-Cola’s Wilsonville plant could hire more than 20 new employees, most of them warehouse drivers, if a proposal to close the Eugene distribution center is finalized, according to a company spokeswoman.

The move is an effort to consolidate the Eugene distribution operations to Coke’s production center in Wilsonville, which underwent a 200,000-square-foot expansion two years ago.

“There are lots of rumors that we’re closing in Eugene, and that’s not true,” said company spokesperson Anna Arodzero, who added that just the Eugene distribution center would be impacted.

There are 69 employees in Eugene, with 24 of those working in the distribution center, she said.

Company officials have notified those 24 employees that their center might be closing and their jobs could be terminated. However, Arodzero said they have been encouraged to apply for the new Wilsonville positions, should they come available.

The remaining Eugene employees work in sales, merchandising and service.

“Currently, all 69 employees are based in the Eugene warehouse and office space, which is a smaller space and we’ve kind of run out of room,” Arodzero said. “When we looked at all the options, what makes the most sense would be to move the distribution to Wilsonville, then move our sales to a new state-of-the-art facility (in Eugene).”

The company has not released a timeline to close the deal, but wanted to “notify the employees as early as we could, so they had as much time as we could give them, to consider their options, and try to keep them as informed as we can, with the respect they deserve, in case they want to relocate,” she said.

Arodzero said the recent expansion of Wilsonville’s production and distribution center has allowed the company to expand while “streamlining” distribution operations and “create a better operation network to service our customers.”

When the $35 million expansion nearly doubled the size of Coke’s production plant in 2010, the company also closed its distribution centers in Woodland, Wash., The Dalles and Tualatin, transferring most of the jobs to Wilsonville.

No new job postings for Wilsonville have been listed on Coke’s employment site,

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