Aurora Organic Dairy begins hiring

Plant will open early next year

Aurora Organic Dairy tax break nears finish line

COLUMBIA, Mo. - UPDATE: According to AOD spokesperson Sonja Tuitele, the Columbia plant has 57 employees and is on track to have 100 by the end of 2019.

The plant will open in early 2019. Last March, Boone County Commissioners urged the company to consider community partnerships. Tuitele confirmed Tuesday that plant manager Doug Geshell has already reached out to the local food bank to discuss donating milk.

"We also participated in a toy donation last year when the Columbia Toys for Tots toys were stolen/damaged," she wrote in an email. "As we do in our other locations, we will work with our local communities to be a good corporate citizen and to give back."

Past critics of AOD said Tuesday they're still concerned about the company's business practices and environmental footprint. Scott Dye, the field coordinator for the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, said they will continue to watch AOD "like a hawk."

"We'll continue to closely monitor AOD's business practices, how and where it's going to procure its milk for this plant, and of course we'll be monitoring Hinkson Creek for any pollution impacts or air emissions impacts that may impact the local environment," he said.

Tuiele said they plan to source the milk for this plant from their own farms in Colorado and Texas. They also have one currently under construction in Nebraska.

"However, to meet customer's needs, we do buy milk from outside organic dairy farms that meet our high standards of production," she said.

Dye said that doesn't meet the "straight face test" and they'll continue to keep close tabs on the company.

ORIGINAL STORY: Boone County commissioners will consider Tuesday the last formal step to finalize a tax break for a Colorado-based milk and butter processing plant.

The commission voted unanimously to approve a 75 percent tax abatement for Aurora Organic Dairy in March 2017 and will now consider the last step in that approval process.

The plant has been under construction for much of the past year and company officials have promised it will bring 100 new jobs with it.

"It does represent the ending of the approval process and construction, and the beginning of the abatement in 2019," said the county's attorney, CJ Dykhouse.

In March, commissioners brought up a few concerns about traffic and transparency. ABC 17 News is following up with the commissioners to find out the latest on the project.

ABC 17 News has also contacted Aurora Organic Dairy to find out when the plant could open.

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