Tag Archives: mccloud local first

Local Citizens Groups Forming to Prevent Nestle Extraction Projects, Foster Local (Sustainable) Economic Growth

Nestle Waters of North America has long been in the practice of imposing their water extraction business template on small rural communities, typically without much protest. And in truth, water and resource laws rarely offered residents the ability to say “no” to corporations like Nestle.

That reality is changing fast, and in fact, Nestle’s projects across
the United States are coming under fire from residents are agitating
for more local control (and local benefits) from the extraction of
their resources.

Maine Ordinances

As noted in a recent NPR story, Maine’s small town residents are collecting signatures, forcing special town meetings and saying “yes” to ordinances which retain local control of water:

The Alliance For Democracy – Wells, Maine, residents vote this weekend on local versus corporate power

In a recent story on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Defending Water for Life organizer Emily Posner defended the ordinance and the thinking behind it: “This type of approach is reflective of a paradigm change that’s happening in our society and our culture around how we want to interface with the economy and the environment and the future,” she said. “We’re seeing people moving away from big box stores and trying to revitalize their local economy, and this is a similar type of approach that’s happening through the political sphere, where we’re trying to re-localize our political infastructure so that we as communities have the right to decide what will actually happen within our town borders.”

Nestle tries to pretend it’s a “local” company by offering up a refrain of “we’re Poland Spring – a local company,” others have noted that Poland Spring isn’t even a corporation in the state of Maine.

Chaffee County’s Sustainability Group

In Chaffee County (CO), Nestle’s water extraction project – which initially promised nothing more to the community than free bottled water to the school – is now facing determined opposition, and to avoid an embarrassing (and precedent-setting) defeat in their first attempt at an extraction project in Colorado, Nestle’s whipping out the checkbook.

Still smarting from a embarrassing series of “errors” in their 1041 application which grossly overstated the economic benefits to the area, Nestle’s also being confronted by a Chaffee County Sustainability Group, who realize that Nestle’s tapping an important resource, delivers few benefits, and could likely harm the formation of local, sustainable businesses.

Suddenly, the “we’ll do what we please” multinational is making noises about a community endowment and announcing local construction contracts right before meetings, and even if Chaffee County’s residents lose the fight against Nestle’s water extraction project, it’s interesting to note how far Nestle’s willing to go (or needs to) just to stay in the ballgame.

McCloud’s Local First Group

Meanwhile, the long-suffering former timber town of McCloud (CA) is still being intentionally factionalized by Nestle’s attempts to build a water bottling plant there, and in fact, Nestle’s operative Dave Palais marginalized opposition at a nearby Rotary Club meeting by saying “There is a small group that is opposed to the project and many are from out of town.”

The “wealthy San Francisco fly fishermen” refrain has been trotted out numerous times by Nestle’s operative, and it’s a pattern that repeats itself often enough elsewhere (including Maine) that it must be simply considered a divisive part of the Nestle playbook.

Belying that claim is the recent formation of a McCloud Local First group whose goal is:

The McCloud Local First Network is dedicated to strengthening McCloud and the local economy by promoting, preserving, and protecting local, independently owned businesses.

We’d humbly suggest that’s not the manifesto you’d expect from a bunch of “wealthy” out-of-towners.

Sustainable Use of Local Resources

While Nestle’s water bottling operations are under assault on both the economic and environmental fronts, it’s likely their biggest fear is playing out right before their eyes: We’re seeing the formation of local citizens groups dedicated to the development of sustainable businesses.

Multinationals which tap local resources (essentially for free) and send all the profits overseas aren’t exactly a part of that picture, and we can expect Nestle to deny that reality with a wave of PR-driven “community” projects.

Those, sadly, will not alter the fundamentally unsustainable nature of Nestle’s water bottling business (extract, truck, bottle, truck, truck, sell, throw away) – nor the multinationals impacts on local communities.

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Better Than Nestle: Building Local Economies (w/o the Trucks, Waste and [thankfully] Nestle Waters)

This press release caught our eye – it outlines one way a group of McCloud citizens are trying to revive their local economy, and without suffering the negative economic and lifestyle effects of the proposed Nestle water bottling plant:

McCloud, CA – The McCloud Local First Steering Committee announced today that they have launched the first-ever McCloud Basin Business idea Contest. The purpose of this contest is for area residents, elected officials, business leaders and others in the community to share and develop business ideas that could create jobs in McCloud.

The three best business idea authors will each win $100 cash and $100 in gift certificates to local businesses. Winners will also receive a free consulting session with the Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI). Submissions will be judged by a panel of McCloud residents, business owners and JEDI.

“Starting local businesses that also create jobs for McCloud residents is critical to McCloud’s economy,” said April Gray, steering committee chair. “McCloud has the innovation, creativity and commitment to launch successful, long-term businesses in our area, but we need to work collaboratively in order get the best results. This contest is designed to help facilitate this community collaboration,” she said.

To enter, simply type or write no more than 2 pages about your business idea and e-mail it to jobsinmccloud@yahoo.com or drop it off at the McCloud Market, McCloud General Store, or McCloud Mercantile by January 21st at 5 pm. All business ideas must represent viable, sustainable businesses that create jobs for McCloud residents. Anyone can submit an idea-as long as the business would be located in the McCloud Basin. Business ideas that are locally owned and operated, fill a niche in the local market, and have potential for export markets will receive extra consideration.

Submissions should include the following information:

  • Who will be working on this project (is it just you, or do you have a team?)
  • Description of your product or service
  • Name your market (who will purchase your product or service? Extra consideration for developing a local market.)
  • How will your business make money? How much will people be paying for your product or services?
  • Besides creating jobs, what environmental or social contributions does your business make?
  • How many jobs could your business provide?

“By inviting all area residents to submit their ideas and then sharing those ideas with a robust panel of judges, we hope to broaden our community’s ability to create local jobs,” said Brian Stewart, steering committee member and new McCloud Community Services District Board member.

All submissions will be delivered to the judging panel on Thursday January 22, 2009. The judges will return their scores Monday January 26th. The three contest winners will be announced at the McCloud Local First Steering Committee community meeting on Wednesday January 28th2009 (6:30 pm at Scout Hall). Contest winners will present their business idea and receive their prize.

About the McCloud Local First Steering Committee
The McCloud Local First Steering Committee formed this year to facilitate the development of a local first initiative and business alliance based on the BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) network model, and to pursue ideas generated at the Michael Shuman community meeting. The current steering committee includes McCloud residents and business owners, supporting agencies such as the McCloud Chamber of Commerce and stakeholders including McCloud Watershed Council, JEDI and California Trout. The committee operates by consensus and is chaired by April Gray and vice-chaired by Robin Singler.

It’s often the case that small rural towns are stampeded into bad economic development practices by Nestle, whose plants (and water extraction operations) often don’t make sense.

They often buy the land and get the water for free (taking advantage of the lamentable state of groundwater resource laws), impact watersheds, run trucks through rural areas 24/7, and don’t deliver the jobs they promised.

And EcoNorthwest economic study – one that analysed the negative ecnomic impacts of a Nestle Waters of North America plant in the town of McCloud – revealed some fairly shocking numbers, one of which was that once the lifestyle impacts on the economy were considered, McCloud could actually suffer a negative economic impact.

One solution?

Local economic development where business profits stay local (instead of heading directly from McCloud’s springs to Nestle’s headquarters in Switzerland). Economist and author Michael Schuman outlines his strategy in his best-selling “The Small-Mart Revolution” book.

As we’ve noted in the past, Nestle often casts opponents of their water bottling operations as being “anti-business” when the truth is something else; they’re simply pro-local economies.

After all, we saw how a downturn in the bottled water industry translated to the local workforce in Calistoga, CA; 78 workers lost their jobs.

Local businesses contribute more in terms of living wages to local ecnomies, and yes, they’re less likely to hammer a big chunk of the town’s workforce to drive a fractional improvement on some Swiss accountant’s spreadsheet.