Between 2006 and 2008, the Nestlé company made its largest single capital investment in company history by building a $359 million plant in Anderson, Ind.
That plant nearly landed on the outskirts of Lima, but in the end, we were left standing in the doorway like a guy without a prom date. The Swiss beauty walked off with our smiling Hoosier neighbor, who showered her with more gifts than we could afford.
Nestlé has turned out to be a cash cow for Anderson, as we found out last week when reading a story on the news wire. The amazing thing is some in this Indiana community of 56,000 don’t have a clue to how lucky they have it.
Nestle has already done more than it promised the city.
It is the single largest source of tax revenue for Anderson, providing it with about $2 million a year in property taxes. That will increase by 10 percent a year as the plant’s 10-year tax abatement dwindles.
Nestlé also has delivered 663 employees, more than double the 300 jobs promised when it opened. On top of that it invested $582 million into the Anderson facility — more than $200 million than it originally said it would invest to make such products as Coffee-mate, Nesquik and Boost.
“They exceeded our expectations,” Linda Dawson, the city’s economic development director, told the local newspaper, The Herald-Bulletin. She was part of the negotiating team that worked to bring Nestlé to Anderson.
The Boost line wasn’t part of the original project. The plant expanded two years ago to add the nutrition drink line. A year ago, Nestlé completed another expansion, this time for a 31,000-square-foot warehouse. The space is used to store and distribute refrigerated products such as Toll House cookie dough and Buitoni pastas.
Nestlé is now talking about pledging another $166 million in production that will create another 104 jobs, but the City Council in Anderson is receiving some pushback from the city’s nonprofit groups. The nonprofits feel the megafirm is shirking its duty to be a stronger community partner. They feel it is not enough for the Nesquik bunny to drop by a school a few times a year to promote reading; they want the company to shell out the cash to advertise in the Anderson Symphony Orchestra program or an Anderson’s Mainstage Theatre playbill.
It seems ridiculous that such an argument is even going on this Labor Day.
Lima has learned that the hard way.
We were in a lot of pain when Nestle made its decision. We groused a lot about it, finally taking solace in the fact we finished No. 2. The trouble is that in the world of economic development, the payoff for No. 2 and No. 200 are the same — nothing.
If Anderson doesn’t want those 104 new jobs, we’ll take them.
ROSES AND THORNS: A few this week.
Rose: Good news on Elida Road in Lima. A new grocery store, Ruler Foods, is going into the complex that houses Toys R Us and OfficeMax. Also, Lima Powder Coating is finishing an expansion that will see it add to its workforce.
Rose: Construction is complete and two-way traffic is set to begin Tuesday on Spring Street in Lima.
Rose: The Ohio Northern University football teams will wear commemorative camouflage jerseys in its game on Sept. 15 as part of a special tribute to war veterans. The game against Heidelberg will also include an F-16 jet flyover.
Rose: The Equal Opportunity Minority Coalition was introduced to the community last week. The coalition has been working for more than a year to form a network for residents to address economic development opportunities in the minority community.
Rose: The first 20 feet of a giant likeness of Jesus Christ has been erected along Interstate 75 near Monroe, replacing the iconic statue that was destroyed by lightning in 2010. The new statue will be 51-feet tall when done.
Rose: To Ralph Herman, of Ottawa, who will have his idea published Wednesday in the nationally syndicated “Pluggers” comic strip.
Thorn: Some Shawnee middle school students found their school lunches of chicken nuggets, seasoned curly fries, a whole grain dinner roll and fresh strawberries also contained a few cooked ants.
PARTING SHOT: Good teams are like elevators; they go right back up after letdowns.