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Miller Brewing Co. could open long-closed plant.

Miller Brewing Co. could open long-closed plant

The Miller Brewing Co. said Wednesday a revival in beer sales nationwide means the company may soon decide when to finally open a $411 million brewery that has been idle since Miller built it in 1981.

"We're feeling hopeful. But we don't want people to get so fired up that they expect an immediate decision," said Peter Acly, a spokesman at Miller's Milwaukee headquarters. "We are not, in any way, implying a specific date by which we will make that decision."

Butler County officials who helped arrange tax abatements and site improvements for Miller have often accused the company of reneging on promises to bring the jobs it promised to the southwestern Ohio county. In October, county officials called on Miller to give them a specific opening date or risk losing the tax breaks.

The company originally said that the Trenton brewery, located on a 1,070-acre site about 30 miles north of Cincinnati, would begin production in 1983 and would employ approximately 1,500 people. But other than a 1984 test production run, the plant has stood idle because U.S. beer sales lagged in the early 1980s and Miller said its six operating breweries were adequate to supply the demand.

Miller, owned by the New York-based Philip Morris Cos. Inc., has kept the Trenton plant maintained and says it could operate within six months of a decision to start it up.

"The equipment is there to brew, package and ship beer," Acly said.

Butler County Auditor Daniel Wurst, one of Miller's critics, met last week with Miller officials.

"They said it would open soon, but also said it would take six months after the commitment to get the plant in operation," Wurst said Tuesday. "This is a lot of jobs, a lot of taxes. I just want something to move."

Under an agreement made prior to the brewery's construction, Miller has received $11 million in real estate tax abatement and would receive another $10 million by 1995 when the agreement expires, Wurst said.

"The message we brought to Mr. Wurst is that we are feeling very positive about our sales trends," Acly said. "This decision is going to be sales-driven. The continued growth of our sales is going to be the only factor tht goes into making the decision.

"When we open the brewery, we want it to be open for keeps. We do not want to make a hasty decision and possibly have to back off from it later," Acly said.

PHOTO : OPEN OR SHUT CASE?--Miller Brewing Co. officials say an upturn in beer sales nationwide

PHOTO : makes the company confident it can decide soon when to finally jopen this $411-million

PHOTO : brewery near Trenton, OH, that has stood empty since its completion in 1981.
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Title Annotation:Trenton, Ohio
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Jan 29, 1990
Words:466
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