The next significant project in Centre County might be on the horizon if the quality of the Spring Creek Watershed checks out.
Nestle will make a decision about a potential $50 million manufacturing facility after it also considers environmental sustainability, local infrastructure and community support for the project.
Centre County is the frontrunner for the new factory, according to Nestle Waters Natural Resources Manager Eric Andreus, and the community appears to have everything the company is looking for in the early stages of its search for a new site. The possible expansion into Centre County was prompted by Nestle Waters’ need to expand beyond its Allentown factory and a growing demand for bottled water, which the company said surpassed soda as the most popular beverage in 2017 in the United States.
Nestle Waters has worked with the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County for several months to determine the feasibility of the project that would culminate in producing Deer Park brand bottled water.
CBICC President and CEO Vern Squier and Andreus said the facility would inject $55 million annually into the economy and support 50 full-time, “good-paying” jobs in addition to about 100 jobs created through construction. Several properties have been identified as potential sites for a facility in Spring and Benner townships, according to Andreus who said the company could make a decision in the next year.
“First and foremost, we want to ensure we can source water without a negative impact on water and others’ access to the water,” Andreus said. “We also want to identify the necessary components to support a project such as this, the land, infrastructure and beyond that look at community support. We want to be embraced by the community, be a good corporate citizen and bring value to the community.”
Nestle would purchase about 300 gallons of water per minute from the Spring Township Water Authority, according to Andreus. Nestle spokeswoman Kerrin Garripoli said that potential withdrawal would support two bottling lines and amount to less than 1 percent of the average daily discharge of Spring Creek at Milesburg, which is about 25 percent of how much water Corning used for its operation.
“This project would be one of the largest we've seen for decades here in the community....” Squier said. “We do appreciate what this project could do for the community and for manufacturing. We've had a receding amount of manufacturing in Centre County for several years. This would be a nice infusion of manufacturing jobs and a higher tech, environmental, clean and sophisticated (manufacturing) process.”
Nestle’s goal is to have a new factory built by 2020.
“When we commit to a bottling facility it's a long-term commitment,” Andreus said. “That's why it takes a number of years to build a facility, because we have a lot of research to do upfront, a lot of due diligence on the water sources to ensure we can rely on those sources for the long-term to support our business and to ensure withdrawals of water won't have a negative impact on the environment or residents’ ability to access water.”
Nestle representatives attended a Spring Township Supervisors meeting Tuesday, a part of the company’s process in engaging local officials to determine the feasibility of a factory.
The company will also hold an open house at an undetermined date in February or March to provide information to local residents about the project. The open house will include opportunities for community members to ask questions and learn about possible job opportunities.
“It’s not only important for us to identify the resources and other components of any project, but it's also just as important to get to know the community and to make sure the community is going to be a good fit as well,” Andreus said. “That's the primary reason to begin communications early, share information, get the facts out there and obtain feedback. We're new to the community and we've generally been welcomed with open arms to this point, but we want to learn more about the community, which we want to become a member of.”