Water Company Plans to Build New Bottling Plant in Claremont

By Chris Fleisher
Valley News Business Writer

Claremont -- A Canadian bottled water company hopes to build a plant in Claremont by next spring, bringing with it 50 new jobs and a potential to double the work force in five years.

Ice River Springs Water Co., which is based in Ontario, wants to put a 273,000-square-foot bottling facility in the River Bend Industrial Park on River Road, according to documents submitted recently to the Claremont Planning Department.

A company executive said Claremont offered a combination of good location and a business-friendly environment, tipping the scales in its favor against other competing towns.

“Claremont is a good location between our water source and our customer distribution centers,” said Sandy Gott, Ice River's vice president of corporate affairs. “We have also found New Hampshire to be quite business friendly.”

The company draws its spring water from Randolph in Vermont and has distribution centers in Boston, making Claremont a nice “in-between” point, Gott said. Freight costs are significant for bottled water companies because of the weight of their product, making travel distances of supreme importance.

Power costs were also a factor, she said, and Claremont proved cheaper than some other areas.

Ice River plans to build the plant in two phases over five years. If approved, the first half would be finished sometime next spring and employ about 50 people, Gott said. Fifty more are expected be added when the second half is built. Nearly all those jobs are expected be filled locally, she said, with the possible exception of the plant manager.

The water company is somewhat different from the employers Claremont has been trying to attract in recent years, though city officials they are still grateful for the news.

For years, the city has focused its economic development efforts on bringing high tech companies that offer high-wage, skilled positions. Making and filling plastic water bottles at Ice River is more likely to be low-skill work, though officials said it would still provide much needed stability to the city's economy.

“I think they are a very strong, light industrial new company and their jobs are sound manufacturing jobs with benefits and sound salaries,” said Nancy Merrill, Claremont's business development coordinator. “These jobs are what every economy needs.”

The company still needs state environmental and local planning approval before any work can be done. The plans will go to the Technical Review Committee on Tuesday and to the Planning Board on Oct. 22.

City Manager Guy Santagate said in a written statement that he hoped the company could break ground within the month.

“Continued growth by existing businesses, as well as being an attractive location for new companies like Ice River Springs, is a sign that the next chapter for Claremont will read of expansion, growth and economic vitality,” Santagate said.