Nestle’s water extraction project in Chaffee County (CO) seemed headed for an easy permitting process – a process that’s now under threat of derailment at the hands of fast-growing local opposition.
Nestle’s problem? Despite the spin and public “outreach” (basically in-person PR tours of the site), they can’t offer residents a compelling benefit to offset the truck traffic, noise, and potential loss of local control to a Swiss-based multinational.
What do you when that happens? Nestle – brazenly – whips out its checkbook, promising a payoff to everyone willing to play ball. Is sprinkling a little “H2O-la” around the community Nestle’s latest adaptation to growing public opposition?
In the midst of an oddly stream-of-consciousness report about Nestle’s 1041 permitting process in the Mountain Mail newspaper, this little gem emerged:
The application does not meet economic diversity and economic development standards, planners said.
Bruce Lauerman, Nestlé natural resources manager, announced a $500,000 endowment would be established and used for grants to local non-profits who facilitate the values of the Nestlé project [emphasis added].
An ad will be placed in The Mountain Mail within the next week which will search for local truck drivers to work with Nestlé’s contracted trucking company, Lauerman said. The company plans to research whether or not it can draw 50 percent of its drivers from Chaffee County.
Ted Richardson, planning commission chair, said “the information we have does not indicate a clear benefit, but that may change.”
Is it just me, or has Nestle – which earlier promised to “support the community” by doing nothing more than donating bottled water to nearby schools – decided its project needs a little checkbook-based boosterism to the tune of a half-million dollars?
And what of the oddly worded statement suggesting money would go to “local non-profits who facilitate the values of the Nestlé project?”
Finally, notice the weasel words surrounding Nestle’s “committment” to hiring local “plans to research whether or not it can…”
In other communities, Nestle has repeatedly said it won’t guarantee local hiring for any jobs (in McCloud they suggested that was illegal), but now they’re promising to “research” the possibility here?
Like so many of Nestle’s promises (ask the state of Florida how it ended up with half the jobs it was promised by Nestle), this one will likely be washed away once Chaffee County’s water starts enriching Nestle’s bottom line.