A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Coca-Cola aims to be good neighbor, ‘operates more as small business’ in Erlanger and NKY region

By Pat Crowley
Strategic Advisers

The new resident who moved into the City of Erlanger last year has turned out to be quite the good neighbor.

Since opening its massive 300,000-square-foot, $33-million distribution facility on the site of the former Showcase Cinemas, Coca-Cola Consolidated has embraced its new neighbors by becoming an enthusiastic and frequent supporter of Erlanger first-responders, businesses, residents, students, and the city.

“We have really built a tremendous relationship with the City of Erlanger,” said Morris Howard, Coca-Cola Consolidated’s Culture and Engagement Manager. “We want to do what we can to help out and be part of the community, and Mayor Jessica Fette and the city have repeatedly reached out to ask if there anything they can do for us. It’s a true partnership.”

“Coke Consolidated has been a tremendous Company to work with and has already become a leading business partner with the city,” Mayor Fette said. “Whenever I call Morris, he is ready to help.”

Earlier this summer, Coke Consolidated donated and delivered bottled water and Powerade as part of the city’s First Responder Appreciation Celebration, which the company sponsored in conjunction with the city. The event, which also included the city’s public works department, was designed to show appreciation for those who continue to deal with precautions and other tasks related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We spoke to the mayor to let her know that we really wanted to support and encourage the first responders and others with the city who are on the front lines,” Howard said. “They deal with circumstances and situations — COVID issues or not — that a normal person never has to walk into, and they can’t refuse. So, we wanted to show them some love and appreciation for what they do every day.”

Coke Consolidated also participated in this summer’s Drive-Thru Grill Out, which was held June 19 at the Erlanger City Building and was jointly sponsored by the city and Colonial Cottage. Once again, they donated drinks for the event, which benefited the city’s E-Angel Program.

Through the Erlanger E-Angel program, Erlanger Police Social Worker Becky Strouse provides services and products to residents in need, including nutritional, educational, mental health, housing, and employment needs.

“Morris recognized how important the E-Angel program is to our city and our residents, and he offered to help,” Mayor Fette said. “Coca-Cola Consolidated is continuing a wonderful traditional in Erlanger, where the city and the business community work together to help make this a great place to live and work.”

Coke Consolidated is also supportive of education in the communities where the Company operates. Howard has visited local high schools and spoke to the students about job opportunities. Three years ago, the company launched a Youth Development Platform program that it takes to the schools.

“I generally talk to the kids about the learning skills they will need, resume building, interview skills, and more,” Howard said. “It’s really fun getting in front of actual students and giving them a chance to ask questions because we have a lot of good information to share. But also, you just never know what a student is going to ask!”

Coca-Cola Consolidated is the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the United States, a Company that distributes more than 300 brands and flavors across 14 states to more than 66 million customers.

But the company prides itself operating more as a small business in a local community, said Jennifer Richmond, the company’s director of government affairs.

“When we have a facility in a local community, we work hard to make local connections and become an active part of that community,” Richmond said. “But we don’t come in with a cookie-cutter approach. We talk to local stakeholders, work to identify the community’s needs and position ourselves to fill those needs and opportunities. For us, it is all about being a good neighbor and building long-lasting relationships with the community. And that’s we are doing in Erlanger.”

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From the City of Erlanger:

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One Comment

  1. Frank Fessler says:

    Maybe Coke cola can help the K thru 3rd grade with their education with the Erlanger Elsmere school. From the 4th grade and up those kids got free notebooks. The children in the other grades are just as important. Don’t understand why their education has to be stifle.
    Thank you for your community involvement.

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