BOONE COUNTY, Mo. - An organic dairy plant in northeast Columbia held its grand opening Wednesday with Gov. Mike Parson and city leaders in attendance.
Aurora Organic Dairy broke ground at its site off Waco Road in May 2017 and promised to bring at least 80 jobs in its first year. On Wednesday, company CEO Scott McGinty said the plant now employs 102 people.
"They've already exceeded their commitment to hire over 100 people and I think they could be double that in the next 24 to 30 months," Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said. "More importantly, they had promised to make sure that 10 percent of its workforce matched the demographic of Columbia and that's more like 30 percent right now."
McGinty said there is plenty of room for expansion if the time comes.
"We do have 100 acres here on the site in Columbia and we're using approximately a quarter of that right now," he said, "so we have plenty of room to expand. If we're expanding we're definitely adding to our workforce here and hiring people from the local community."
Parson said might eventually have a statewide impact.
"We need to be looking what other companies may be affiliated with this company, can we get them to come here to Missouri?" Parson said.
Treece said the dairy's presence in Columbia is also helping the University of Missouri School of Agriculture, which has partnered with the plant on an externship.
"Ag students will go to Colorado, they'll learn the dairy business and then come back to this plant and work," Treece said. "I mean I can't think of a better synergy here between Columbia's economy, the state's agricultural history and this corporate development."
Workers started testing products in December and the plant manager, Doug Geshell, said the local operation has shipped milk to its customers.