Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC (Coke Florida) is the recipient of the 2023 Community Transformer Award, presented by the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council (Tampa Bay EDC).
The Tampa Bay EDC partnered with TECO in 2019 to create the Community Transformer Award, which honors an EDC project company that has had an impact on the region above and beyond creating jobs and capital investment.
“Receiving this caliber of an award reflects Coke Florida’s commitment to the communities we serve,” said Thomas Benford, President and Chief Operating Officer for Coke Florida. “For Coke Florida, our goal is to be a good local partner as we expand and grow our business. That includes maintaining a strong presence in the community for our ongoing initiatives in the areas of Sustainability, Education, and Economic Empowerment.”
The Community Transformer Award was presented to Benford, on behalf of Coke Florida, at Tampa Bay EDC’s 2023 Annual Meeting by Stephanie Smith, TECO’s Vice President of State and Regional Affairs. In accepting the prestigious award, Benford shared, “Coke Florida is dedicated to our associates, customers, consumers, and community. All of us at Coke Florida thank the EDC and the award sponsor, TECO, for acknowledging the impact of our work in the community. Our team is committed to enhancing the communities where we live, work, and play.”
Coke Florida employs 1,000 associates in sales, manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, fleet, and professional services across Tampa, where the company currently has underway a $250 million capital project on a 156-acre parcel. The site will feature an 800,000-square-foot sales and distribution facility with state-of-the-art automated order fulfillment capabilities. This investment expands Coke Florida’s ability to serve the growing number of customers and consumers in the region.
Among Coke Florida’s highlighted impactful programs were: the company’s longstanding partnership with Habitat for Humanity, which enables homeownership for families; technology donations and digital skills training help to close the digital divide in underserved communities; sustainability certifications and award-winning sustainability programs that influence operations, product packaging, and community behaviors; and the recently launched Coke Florida Refreshing Minds scholarship program that will send 250 students to college tuition-free over the next ten years.
“Since its founding in 2015, Coke Florida has been a committed partner in the Tampa Bay business community,” said Craig J. Richard, President and CEO of the Tampa Bay EDC. “The company is deeply invested in creating shared value and is contributing immensely to the future of the ever-expanding Tampa Bay area.”
Coke Florida has been an annual Tampa Bay EDC Circle of Champions investor since 2020. Mr. Benford serves as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors, providing forward-thinking leadership and strategic governance in partnership with the CEO.
About Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC
Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC (Coke Florida) is a family-owned Coca-Cola bottler with an exclusive sales and distribution territory that serves over 21 million consumers across 47 Florida counties, and includes the major metropolitan markets of Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. Coke Florida markets, sells, manufactures, distributes, and merchandises over 600 products of The Coca-Cola Company and other partner companies such as Monster Energy. The company is the sixth largest Coca-Cola bottler in the United States. Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Tampa, Florida, Coke Florida is the fourth largest Black-owned business in the United States, one of the largest minority-owned business in Florida, and a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certified company. In 2023, the company was named a US Best Managed Company, for the second consecutive year, joining an elite group of private companies holding this designation awarded by Deloitte-Private and The Wall Street Journal. To learn more, visit www.cocacolaflorida.com.
Vice President, Communications
Pictured L-R: Craig J. Richard, President and CEO, Tampa Bay EDC; Stephanie Smith, Vice President of State and Regional Affairs, TECO Energy; Thomas Benford, President and Chief Operating Officer, Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC; and Angel Gonzalez, Immediate Past Chair, Tampa Bay EDC Board of Directors.