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EDEN, N.C. — One of Rockingham County’s largest employers has announced it’s shutting down the plant in Eden.

MillerCoors Union Representative Vernon Gammon calls the closure a blow to the hundreds of employees at the plant and the community.

Eden Economic Development Director Mike Dougherty said the city learned of the company’s decision by email on Friday.

Dougherty said the business decision has to do with the Eden plants location and the rise in popularity of craft beer.

“As a company they were down 10 million barrels so the Eden brewery brewed 7 million barrels last year; so you can see they can absorb that same production in other places because of the marketplace changing,” Dougherty said.

Monday afternoon employees gathered for a meeting at Union Hall to discuss their options and plans to save the plant.

“We have reached out to the governor’s office, we have reached out to Sen. Phil Berger’s office and spoke with county commissioners, reaching out to the city of Eden to see if there’s any way possible to see if we can put a plan together that we could present to Miller Corporate to save this facility,” Gammon said. “We would be telling company if they are going to be hiring any employees anywhere within the Miller family, the Eden employees should have first opportunity for any job opportunity but no agreement has been reached on that. We will be discussing that when we sit down with the company and bargain.”

Mayor Wayne Tuggle said the closure effects several other business within the town , even sponsorship of local events and festivals.

“It goes way beyond that when you think about an industry like Miller. They use 900 million gallons of water in the city of Eden so we’re losing that. Probably losing $1.4 million for the city of Eden,” said Tuggle.

Dougherty said MillerCoors has been in Eden since 1978.

Union representative Vernon Gammon said the company has about 450 hourly production employees and about 100-150 salary employees.

No official word on when gradual layoffs will begin.