Congressman Matt Gaetz tours Valparaiso Coca-Cola during Niceville visit


Congressman Matt Gaetz visited Valparaiso Coca-Cola Bottling Co. and confessed his love for Diet Coke on Thursday during two days of touring his district.


Gaetz said he visited Coca-Cola to learn how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is affecting industry in Northwest Florida.

“Coca-Cola is a major employer in our community,” said Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. “It was great to hear that employees are seeing less federal withholding and more take-home pay already.”

Gaetz began his visit Tuesday with a trip to Sims Middle School in Pace for a Google Online Safety Roadshow. He then went to a barbecue at the Rotary Club in Milton and toured forestry lands with Resource Management Services.

“It’s especially exciting for me as someone who went to Niceville High School and spent most of my time in the 32578 area code,” Gaetz said.

During the Coca-Cola tour Gaetz learned the plant distributes 3 million cases — which amounts to an eye-popping 72 million bottles — annually in Okaloosa and Walton counties.

The Coca-Cola staff also told Gaetz about the company’s efforts to deliver water during hurricanes and its focus on hiring non-college-bound high school graduates.

Gaetz responded several times with questions about welfare, wage increases and whether the business has been affected by the opioid epidemic.

Gaetz also visited the Okaloosa STEMM Academy in Niceville, another Rotary Club meeting at Northwest Florida State College, Eglin Air Force Base and the Military Academy Service Night at Niceville High School.

“Today is Niceville ‘Open Gaetz Day,’ ” he said.



SEE MORE PHOTOS AT THE SOURCE:  Gaetz visits Niceville, tastes the feeling of Coca-Cola

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By Heather Osbourne | 315-4440 | @heatheronwfdn
Updated Mar 29, 2018 at 5:12 PM