The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

July 16, 2012

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. breaks ground for expanded operation

Governor cites new center as part of Joplin’s focus

C.J. Huff, superintendent of the Joplin School District, made a point Monday of saying thank you to the Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

When the May 22, 2011, tornado struck, Coca-Cola was in the process of closing a deal on a spec building in the Crossroads Business and Distribution Park that it would use as a new hub for the regional distribution of Coca-Cola products.

Instead of closing the deal, Coca-Cola let the Joplin School District have the building for use as a new campus for 600 East Middle School students.  

Huff said he did not know any of that had happened until well after the fact. He said it is an example of what Joplin businesses have done and are doing to help the community that many people never hear about.

“I think the most important thing I can do today is say thank you,’’ Huff said. “And I promise to drink lots of Coke.’’

Ground was broken Monday morning for a new $5.5 million distribution center a few blocks east of the school in the industrial park. The 56,000-square-foot center will open in early 2013.

Joplin’s relationship with the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. goes back 108 years. It has operated in the same location longer than any other business in Joplin. The new center replaces a 40,000-square-foot center at 1301 S. Virginia Ave.

Cole Mashburn, area sales manager for Coca-Cola, said the old center still has a place where horses could be tethered.

“We were here when you got around with a horse and buggy,’’ he said.

Speaker after speaker at Monday’s ceremony praised the company for its response after the May 2011 tornado. In addition to helping the school district, the company provided at least 10 truckloads of bottled drinking water to the community at a time when a boil order was in effect. It also contributed $25,000 to the restoration of Cunningham Park.

Under a tent with red and white stripes, Kevin Shea, a vice president of field operations for Coca-Cola, said he was humbled by and proud of the company’s long-standing relationship with the community.

“It’s what our company is about,” he said. “After the tornado, we saw what Joplin was all about. We truly have a partnership with Joplin in every sense.’’

He said the center’s work force will grow from 55 to 100 employees through consolidation of company operations in Aurora and Fort Scott, Kan.

Gov. Jay Nixon said Coca-Cola’s decision to reinvest in Joplin is an example of the city’s “laser-like focus on economic development’’ since the tornado.

According to the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, approximately 25 new businesses have opened in the city since the tornado. Of the 553 businesses that were destroyed or badly damaged by the tornado, about 85 percent, or 468 of them, have come back.

Forty businesses are not coming back, including 29 general businesses, four medical and dental offices, five day care centers and two apartment complexes.

Nixon said the Coca-Cola center is an example of “a big brand investment that will lead others to invest.’’ He said his attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony sends “a strong signal to other companies that Missouri is ready to expand, and that we are confident in the future of our state.’’

The new center will feature energy-saving skylights for interior illumination and a rain garden that collects storm-water runoff.

Mashburn said the new center will have eight loading docks to improve efficiency. The old property at 13th Street and Virginia Avenue will be listed for sale.


CROSSLAND CONSTRUCTION CO., Columbus, Kan., is the contractor. Bennie Crossland said, “Coca-Cola is investing in Joplin at a time when Joplin really needs it.’’

Text Only
May 2011 Joplin tornado
  • Local new-home construction catches up to previous pace

    After a slow start early in this fiscal year for Joplin, the construction of new houses has resumed at the pace that existed in fiscal year 2013, when permits for new houses averaged more than 16 per month. Since November, the beginning of Joplin’s fiscal year, permits for 118 houses have been issued for a total cost of $12.8 million. The average value has been about $108,000.

    June 11, 2014

  • 052212 unity walk1_72.jpg SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary

    May 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • 060314 Farmers rebuild 1_72.jpg Farmers Insurance writes manual based on experience from Joplin disaster recovery

    Joplin’s housing recovery from the 2011 tornado is one for the books. Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance, announced Tuesday that not only will Farmers Insurance stick with Rebuild Joplin to repair and replace the homes left on the local group’s waiting list, but the company also will kick off a similar recovery effort today for the city of Sea Bright, New Jersey, based on a book it has written to expedite disaster recovery that is based on its experience in Joplin.

    June 3, 2014 2 Photos

  • r052214butterflygarden.jpg New park feature opens on tornado anniversary to encourage healing

    Cunningham Park has become an emotional place for Pamela Praytor. The name of her son, Christopher Lucas, is engraved on a monument that stands in the park in memory of the 161 people who were killed in the May 2011 tornado. “Even though I cry when I come, it’s OK,” she said. “It’s part of the healing.”

    May 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • r051214greenbldgs3.jpg Home, business cited as examples of energy efficiency, strength

    Ramona and Charles “Hugh’’ Shields were not the least bit reluctant on Monday to open their new house in the tornado zone to a bunch of strangers who had a lot of questions. “I used to live in a house where I had to wear two pairs of socks in the winter to keep my feet warm — not anymore,’’ said Ramona Shields. “This house is nice and warm in the winter, and nice and cool in the summer.’’

    May 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mercy Health System to receive $23 million FEMA grant

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide Mercy Health System of Joplin with $23 million in public assistance funding by the end of the year. The disaster relief was announced Friday by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

    April 25, 2014

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creator of Joplin-based ‘Dear World’ exhibit features Boston bombing victims in new work

    The messages written on the skin of some Boston Marathon victims may be different, but Joplin residents will recognize the handwriting. Robert X. Fogarty, the creator of the “Dear World: From Joplin with Love” exhibit, took his signature style of photography and inspiration to Boston. Fogarty traveled to Joplin in 2011 and took pictures of community members with inspirational messages written on their bodies in black ink.

    April 21, 2014

  • r041414wildwood.jpg Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone

    Gladys Dutton has done a lot of things in her life, but Monday’s dedication of the Communities at Wildwood Ranch nursing home marked a first. “I’ve never cut a ribbon before,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.” Dutton was one of four residents to participate in the opening of the $8.5 million nursing center that eventually will be home to 120 people.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin Redevelopment Corp. preparing for first property sale

    The first sale of property from the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. to Wallace Bajjali Development Partners is scheduled for May 16. The city staff will be working to prepare for that sale, it was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the JRC.

    April 9, 2014

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