BOULDER — The city of Columbia, Mo., on Monday approved the sale of approximately 100 acres of land in northeast Columbia to Aurora Organic Dairy, where it has plans to build a milk-processing and distribution plant.
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If the deal goes through, the Boulder-based company expects to use the processing plant to open additional distribution to the East Coast.
If the dairy pays $2.04 million for the city-owned land, it could receive $500,000 back if it meets job creation goals over a five-year period. The money would be held in escrow, and if job numbers are met, $100,000 would be returned annually for five years.
Aurora Organic Dairy’s president Scott McGinty told Columbia’s city council on Monday night that the company expects to create 150 jobs over two phases of construction. The jobs would need to pay an average annual wage of more than $42,000 in its first five years of operation. The Boone County average wage is $36,225, according to a staff memo to the council. At full capacity, the plant would run three shifts, seven days a week.
If the dairy goes forward with the plant, McGinty said it would be operational by 2018, at which time the company would hire the first 100 workers. The first phase of 80,000 square feet would cost approximately $89 million to build, and the second phase, another 40,000 square feet, would cost $50 million.
Aurora Organic Dairy spokeswoman Sonja Tuitele said on Tuesday that it will be another two months before the company will make a decision to go forward with the plan.
“There are several other groups that will be offering incentives, and we need the time to work through those,” she said.
Six months ago, the dairy purchased 150 acres of land adjacent to its processing plant in Platteville in Weld County.
“When the property came available, we thought it would be a good fallback plan if other options don’t work out,” she said.”
Tuitele said the plant in Platteville has been expanded six times since 2004 to meet growing demand for organic milk. That one processing plant serves retailers in all 50 states. In 2012, Aurora Organic Dairy considered expanding in Columbia, but chose instead to expand its plant in Platteville.