Looking to capitalize on the area’s crystal-clear water, Seven Springs Bottling, Inc., was opened in Long Pine (pop. 348), in May 1997. The plant’s quaint bottling system, while adding charm and appeal to its product, ultimately proved too labor intensive to continue. The water was bottled manually and employees physically shrink-wrapped each and every package, from six packs to cases. To streamline its bottling process, boost its employees’ efficiency levels, and better serve its customers, Seven Springs management realized it would need to purchase new equipment.
In 2000, the Seven Springs, Inc. Board of Directors approached Long Pine’s mayor and village officials about applying for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Ultimately, it was this driving force that led to an award of $ 288,000 in CDBG funding to Long Pine in 2001. Long Pine then loaned it to Seven Springs Bottling to purchase a badly needed bottle-feed table, conveyor and shrink wrapping systems, and a forklift. Local investors provided additional support to complete the project.
With new equipment installed and operational in early November 2001, Seven Springs bottled and sold its water like never before. Currently, the company sells its water through distributors in Eagle, Emmet, Grand Island, Lincoln, Long Pine, Omaha, O’Neill, and Springview, Neb., and as far away as Castro Valley, Calif.
Since its startup in 1997, Seven Springs and the city of Long Pine have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. Seven Springs provides full-time employment for eight area citizens, and has restored and converted several existing buildings into use as production facilities. The Long Pine Chamber of Commerce actively promotes Seven Springs’ water and in return, the company donates its water for community functions. The company’s location also has led to a greater sense of pride and involvement in Long Pine activities and functions.
Long Pine City Clerk Beverly Newport stated it best. “The block grant not only provided Long Pine with a new and thriving small business, but with hope for future expansions, more jobs, and new opportunities and ways to promote our area.”