Idaho Republican governor Otter praised the yogurt tycoon.
Here is the story from the Utica, NY Observer-Dispatch:
The founder and CEO of Chobani has no regrets about moving part of his Greek yogurt company to south-central Idaho, a region embroiled in the national debate over refugee resettlement that spread to company boycotts by far-right bloggers and conspiracy theorists. [So there were boycotts—who knew?–ed]
“I hear the conversations here and there, but it’s a peaceful community that we all love,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant. “It’s the home of Chobani.”
Ulukaya spoke to The Associated Press before a Thursday announcement of a $20 million expansion of the company’s facility in the city of Twin Falls — the world’s largest yogurt plant — to serve as its global research and development center tackling how yogurt is made and consumed.
The company employs 2,000 workers, including 300 refugees.
However, Chobani’s time in Idaho also has taken a darker turn as anti-immigrant advocates have seized on the company’s open stance on refugees. Fringe websites have falsely claimed that Ulukaya wanted to “drown the United States in Muslims.” Other websites, like Breitbart News, falsely attempted to link Chobani’s hiring of refugees to an uptick in tuberculosis cases in Idaho.
To counteract the hateful rhetoric, Chobani sued right-wing radio host Alex Jones earlier this year, saying that Jones and his InfoWars website posted fabricated stories linking Ulukaya and the company to a sexual assault case involving refugee children in Twin Falls. Jones originally promised to never back down in his fight against the yogurt giant but eventually retracted his statements in a settlement. [We are aware that Chobani lawyers threatened other news outlets as well—ed.]
Ulukaya declined to comment on the Jones lawsuit but said the rise in anti-refugee sentiment has never delayed a project he wanted to pursue. And he says he is committed to being a welcoming company.
During Thursday’s expansion launch, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter praised Chobani’s impact on the community.
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