Aurora Organic Dairy is negotiating with the city and state on plans for an 80,000-square-foot dairy processing plant in northeast Columbia that would create between 145 and 160 full-time jobs paying above minimum wage.
Many of the details about the facility, however, remain undisclosed.
The organic dairy, with headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, has come under scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other groups over the past decade about whether its cattle-raising practices have adhered to federal organic regulations. The company settled a lawsuit in 2012 over those allegations for $7.5 million. Aurora has since turned its focus toward demonstrating and furthering its commitment to the well-being of its cattle.
Aurora spokeswoman Sonja Tuitele would not comment on the specifics of why the company is interested in building a plant in Columbia, citing the ongoing negotiations. But in a Jan. 17 email, Tuitele provided an official company statement saying the plant would further the dairy’s plans to expand its operations to meet growing demand for organic dairy products.
Columbia has set March 31 as the closing date for the sale. Aurora, however, as late as March 11 could terminate the agreement, which is contingent upon actions by the company, the city, Boone County and the Missouri Department of Economic Development, said Dave Griggs, chair of the Regional Economic Development Inc. incentives subcommittee.
Read more: Columbia Missourian