On Monday, many of Chobani’s top executives, including founder and chief executive officer Hamdi Ulukaya, were in Twin Falls, Idaho, for the opening of its new 1 million-square-foot yogurt processing factory. Work on the $450 million complex had begun just a year ago.
“Twin Falls is our second home, but will not replace our central New York plant, which will continue to operate at full capacity,” Ulukaya said in a statement. “In fact, we will continue to grow and invest in our New York operations.”
In recent months, Chobani has expanded its Columbus plant, as part of a $134 million project. That effort was made possible, in part, by way of a $3.8 million assistance package approved by the Chenango County Industrial Development Agency.
Jennifer Tavares, Chenango County’s director of economic development, said the expansion project at Columbus “has not been 100 percent completed.”
As for the fact Chobani did not seek the required SRBC permit before withdrawing groundwater for its plant needs, Tavares said the uptake of the water was “not directly related” to the project for which the company was receiving IDA assistance.
“We are not the permitting authority, so it’s not our role to direct them as to what SRBC permits they may need,” Tavares said.
In September, approximately five years after Chobani yogurt was first introduced to consumers, Ulukaya was identified by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index as having a net worth of $1.1 billion.
Given Chobani’s explosive growth in recent years, Tavares said: “It’s logical that they need more than one location to make their product.”
The company employs more than 1,000 people at its Columbus plant.