Nestle adding production line at Anderson plant

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Nestle is stirring things up in Anderson for the better. The company announced plans to expand to a seventh production line at its factory along Interstate 69 in Anderson.

While the community is excited, it also realizes it has a long way to go.

You can't blame the folks in Anderson for drinking the Kool-Aid or, in this case, the chocolate milk from Nestle. It's the third time the company has expanded since opening its doors in 2009.

"My kids will like this," Jan Grubbs exclaimed as she grabbed a Nestle product off the shelf at Payless Grocery Store in Anderson.

Grubbs knows what she wants and she knows what Anderson needs - more jobs. That is why the news that Nestle will invest $72 million to start up a seventh production line, which should go on line next year, means so much.

"It's given us new jobs. It's employed people who need employment and a wonderful help. Anderson needs all the help it can get since we lost Delco," Grubbs observed.

Delco is gone. Guide is now an empty field. So much has changed since this was an auto manufacturing town and the Wigwam was its pulse. Now the future is Nestle.

"It's been an absolute blessing for all the people here in Anderson and surrounding area for jobs and what they mean to the community," Deputy Mayor Pete Heuer said.

Nestle will now add Boost and Carnation Breakfast Essentials to the Nesquik and Coffee-mate lines already at the plant.

Susan McDuffee will pick up some of those items when she shops at Payless in Anderson. She's lived here all of her life.

"Something positive is happening in this community, which is what we need. Because it's been rough when GM left. That hurt," McDuffee said.

Mayor Kevin Anderson is currently on a economic development trip to Italy, which could bring more good news. Nestle's investment has spurred the new Hypro-Filtration plant which broke ground earlier this year on a new $10.5 million facility, which will employ over 100 Hoosiers when it is in full operation, and Greenville Technologies Tech Inc., which went on line this year. GTI is hoping to employ up to 350 Hoosiers in the next few years but for many Anderson residents, it's still not enough.

"People have lost their homes through bankruptcy because of Delco. Lots of people. Not enough jobs," Grubbs observed.

So the sign is clear Nestle has found a new home in Anderson and more jobs will go on line in 2014 as the plant continues to expand. But that is not the only sign of interest around here. We have a long way to go before we can make up for the foreclosed signs that are all too prominent in Anderson these days.