Midwest Coca-Cola Bottling Company is to officially open a new sales and distribution centre in Owatonna today (4 March). US senator Norm Coleman, US congressman Gil Gutknecht, Lt. governor Carol Molnau, state senator Dick Day and other state and local dignitaries will participate in the ceremony.

The new 57,500 square foot facility employs 100 people and will serve Southern Minnesota.

"Boasting the first Order Fulfillment System-designed site in Minnesota, the new delivery system will improve ergonomic safety and reduce the average time to load a full trailer to 24 minutes," a statement said.

The company added that, as the first new Coca-Cola facility built in Minnesota in over 30 years, the Owatonna centre is an example of Coca-Cola's commitment to grow in Minnesota.

In 2004, the company invested US$17m in a blow mould technology that allows for production of plastic bottles on site rather than purchase them from an out-of-state manufacturer.