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Lansing — Nestle Waters North America supplies hundreds of both direct and spinoff Michigan jobs and spends $51.3 million on state businesses each year, according to a new study paid for by Nestle.

The report by Lansing-based Public Sector Consultants said Nestle generates 281 direct jobs and 262 spinoff jobs and shows that a recent expansion in Stanwood created 20 new permanent jobs, $2.2 million in labor income and $6.5 million in economic output.

The expansion is unrelated to the company’s controversial proposal to increase water withdrawals. But the report comes as state officials weigh whether to let the bottled water company nearly double the amount of water it sucks from an underground aquifer in Osceola County.

The report is unrelated to the ongoing political debate, according to Nestle’s natural resources manager, Arlene Anderson-Vincent. She said the goal is to celebrate the company’s 15th year since it began business in Michigan and to give residents a chance to learn about the company’s economic impact in the state.

“I think there’s just a lot of positive impact,” she said. “We hope that helps people get to know us again a little bit better.”

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing Nestle’s request to increase the amount of water it withdraws from the ground from White Pine Springs in Osceola County from 250 gallons per minute to 400. The state has not disclosed a timeline for reaching a decision.

Anderson-Vincent said 90 percent of the water it extracts from Michigan stays within 250 miles of the state.

Nestle has been hammered by environmentalists who say the plan would hurt wetlands. They criticize the company for paying only $5,000 for a permit application and an annual $200 fee for filing related paperwork to withdraw about 210 million gallons a year.

David Holtz, chairman of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter executive committee, said he thinks the study is part of Nestle’s marketing strategy because of trouble “getting what they want from Michigan and Osceola Township.”

“The question is, will Michigan buy what Nestle is selling?” Holtz said. “It could have an impact on some politicians, but it really shouldn’t have an impact on the decision over the permit for Nestle.”

An Osceola County planning commission has shown resistance to the plan as Nestle battles the township in court and the state lags on making a final decision for the withdrawal increase.

“I think that what we did from our end of things is we answered a very specific question: The question was, ‘what’s the total economic contribution … that’s just one piece of the debate when they look at this,” said Jeff Guilfoyle, vice president of Public Sector Consultants.

According to the study, Nestle’s collective 281 employees earned a combined $15.7 million in wages and paid almost $4.8 million in local and state taxes.

Including spinoff jobs like construction and other companies contracted by Nestle, the study boasts that the company created 795 jobs and $160 million in “economic activity across the state – when including indirect and induced economic activity.”

Nestle would not disclose how much money it paid for the study, which said the company creates a “waterfall effect of economic activity that occurs around initial spending and employment.”

mgerstein@detroitnews.com

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