15 April 2008

McCloud or McD's?

The battle to mine McCloud water continues. Nestle wants to run a bottling plant and would surely pay too little for McCloud's water. (Nestle may also destroy the environment...) The article touches on an important topic:
"When they had the mill, this town was jumping," said homeowner Paula Kleinhans. "As soon as the mill closed down, people moved, they lost their jobs, and now there are no children here. It really needs industry here."
So we have one homeowner who wants industry. Let's pretend that she represents the whole town -- everyone wants industry. First of all, what is McCloud's comparative advantage? Water and timber. Fine. Nature? Probably. Can water and timber interfere with Nature? You bet. So, McCloud wants sustainable water, timber and Nature. How to get that? Maximize value of each of those resources. Don't pulp trees for paper -- make furniture. Don't bottle water for Costco -- start a spa, bottle branded spring water, sell it to Chez Panisse or Nobu. Turn nature into an attraction for B&Bs, hikers, spirit guides, etc. Do you really want a big plant with lots of banging and noise. Is industrial pollution good (600 trucks/day) for kids?

Bottom Line: McCloud has lots of resources, and they are selling out too cheap and too fast. If McCloud wants to prosper from those resources (instead of being bent over), it needs to add value. Real economic development takes time (start small, try many things, fail often), but the bigger payoff will last for decades.

3 comments:

The Trout Underground said...

Just as frustrating is the vain idea that the Nestle plant will "bring the town back to life." It simply isn't true.

A handful of $10/hour jobs are not going to attract families to the town (typically, the manager-level positions are filled by people from out of the area).

This as much a demographic change as it is a failure of the town's main industry; the population is shifting, and that's going to happen regardless of what you do on the ground.

In addition, the town has been experiencing a revival over the last decade; there are several thriving eco-businesses -- all of which are threatened by what would be the biggest single building in Northern California (the Nestle plant) and 600 truck trips per day (taking the area's wealth to a corporate headquarters somewhere in Switzerland).

Anonymous said...

April 15, 2008

McCloud or McD's?

Homeowner?????????

David Zetland said...

I have no idea what I was thinking with that title -- perhaps I was asking the (rhetorical) question of whether McCloud wants to develop its unique resources or merely become an outpost of homogenized, corporate America.