LONDONDERRY — Gov. Maggie Hassan came to Londonderry yesterday to learn more about jobs, how the state can help create and keep them.
But in meeting with executives of Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England and touring a production center off Interstate 93, Hassan also received lessons in how connected are employers in the region and the region’s economy.
“I learned about, one, what a terrific employer Coca-Cola of Northern New England is. Also, how many jobs there are as we innovate, for instance, in the area of recycling and how much that can boost capacity, save money and go into developing great jobs,” Hassan said at the conclusion of the tour.
Hassan acknowledged the tour gave her a message to bring back to state leaders in Concord.
“The need to innovate always, and the need to develop a 21st century work force that has the kind of skill set that companies like CCNNE need,” Hassan said.
Executives briefed the governor on the company’s New England presence, with more than 1,000 employees from Maine to Cape Cod, better than half of them in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire payroll alone tops $30 million.
The 25-year-old Londonderry plant takes up 500,000 square feet near Interstate 93 Exit 5, with four production lines and operations seven days a week. Products ranging from Coke to Snapple and Moxie are distributed by the company.
The company’s director of capabilities, Mike Elmer, told Hassan its 18,000 customers range from Market Basket to neighborhood pizzerias.
General Manager Rick Neal said the average plant pay is $54,000 a year. “So they’re good jobs,” Neal said.
Employees often stay with the company for 20 or 30 years, he said.
Hassan told executives after the tour that she always encourages students to consider the good jobs in manufacturing.
She asked Neal if the company is getting the skilled workers needed in New Hampshire.