Nestle Waters of North America Promises Jobs, Delivers Mostly Hot Air

Nestle often dangles a big carrot when approaching rural communities: the promise of “jobs” numbering in the hundreds.

That’s powerful stuff in an economically depressed rural community, yet – unfortunately for rural areas – Nestle’s job claims don’t stand up to scrutiny.

For example, the St. Petersburg Times reports on Nestle’s Blue Springs project, where Nestle’s job promises were clearly inflated:

Nestle had promised to create 300 jobs over five years. The most people it has ever employed was about 250. The number dropped to 205 late last year, 46 of them from Georgia, which Nestle defends as common for a work force along a state line.

If you’re counting, that’s 150 local jobs, and given that better-paying jobs are often given to new arrivals brought in from other places, it’s clear that Florida residents aren’t benefiting like they should.

Economic Study Questions Nestle’s Promises in McCloud

In McCloud, CA, Nestle once dangled the prospect of up to 300 jobs at its proposed bottling plant, yet low-paying jobs – the kind typically offered to locals while better-paying jobs are handed to outsiders – go largely begging at two other local bottling plants.

While Nestle proponents often tout the Nestle bottling plant as a way to attract and keep families in the tiny town of McCloud, it’s clear that a $10/hour job – which falls below the area’s living wage – isn’t going to attract many (if any) families to the area.

In addition, an ECONorthwest economic study concluded that the net economic effect of a bottling plant can even run into the red once impacts on lifestyle amenities, roads, and other factors are weighed.

The following is from the summary of ECONorthwest’s report:

Looking at Crystal Geyser and Coca Cola, low-paying production jobs are hard to fill. There is no guarantee employees would be from McCloud and the majority of these positions would not attract new residents. People from outside McCloud would likely fill higher paying jobs. (Pages: 35-40)

Nestle will not improve unemployment rates or overall employment levels in McCloud or Siskiyou County (Pages: 35-40)

The facility would likely displace current employment at existing firms and employment that would have materialized in the future thus the net job increase at full build out is likely closer to 70 jobs.

Keep in mind the “net job increase at full build out” was projected for Nestle’s 1 million sq. ft. plant. With that project dead and gone – and any new project likely to be much smaller – the number of jobs will shrink, as will any real benefits to the region.

Rural communities would do well to carefully weigh all the economic impacts of a water bottling plant – and the veracity of Nestle’s often-empty promises of jobs.

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3 thoughts on “Nestle Waters of North America Promises Jobs, Delivers Mostly Hot Air

  1. Over a period of time several years ago, I tracked the number of jobs that Tom Brennan kept announcing in the Maine media. Over that time frame, the number of jobs varied by over 150! One day it was 400, and the next 600. The numbers were never the same from one day to the next… You get the picture..

    And last week Mark Dubois announced that Nestle has 800 jobs in Maine that contribute $x amount of cash to the state. One wonders just how many jobs they actually DO have at any one time in the state. AND what Nestle/Poland Spring ACTUALLY contributes to the State coffers outside of the payroll taxes, medicare, and Social Security shares.

  2. Reid: Good to see you here (I remember you from the Trout Underground).

    A state-by-state accounting of the jobs (claimed and real) truly provided would be an interesting project. I’m bringing up the jobs issue because it’s Nestle’s only real leverage in negotiations with rural communities (does anyone really want 500 truck trips a day running through their community?), yet what are the actual benefits (and negatives) associated with Nestle’s bottling plants?

    The EcoNorthwest report mentioned above makes it clear the positives are not what they’re claimed to be.

    For that matter, it’s hard to imagine a water loading station would return enough to a community to make it worth the noise, traffic & pollution (not to mention the loss of a valuable local resource) – probably why Fryeburg has been on the receiving end of so much of Nestle’s legal talent. What else does Nestle have to offer but litigation?

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