TWIN FALLS — Chobani’s founder Hamdi Ulukaya was named to the 2017 TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world.
This is the first time the CEO of an Idaho business has been named to the list.
“Each year our TIME 100 list lets us step back and measure the forces that move us,” Nancy Gibbs, TIME editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs, said in a statement. “One way or another they each embody a breakthrough: they broke the rules, broke the record, broke the silence, broke the boundaries to reveal what we’re capable of.”
Ulukaya founded Chobani in New Berlin, N.Y., in 2007. Then in 2012 he opened the world’s largest yogurt manufacturing facility in Twin Falls. In May 2016, Ulukaya announced a $100 million investment to the Twin Falls plant. Chobani was recently named by Fast Company as one of the 10 most innovative companies in the world and No. 1 in its food and social good categories.
“I think it’s a tremendous honor for Hamdi and Chobani and something we can be proud of here in Twin Falls,” Twin Falls Mayor Shawn Barigar said.
Ulukaya came to the U.S. from Turkey 23 years ago on a student visa. Today, he is a billionaire and philanthropist. He founded the Tent Foundation, which aims to help end the global refugee crisis, and committed the majority of his personal wealth to the cause. For his work, he was named an Eminent Advocate by the United Nations Refugee Agency and received the United Nations Foundation Global Leadership Award. He also sits on the board of the International Board of Special Olympics, the Pathfinder Village and The American Turkish Council.
Last year, Ulukaya announced a profit-sharing program for his company’s 2,000 employees. He also created a six week, fully paid parental leave program for all of the company’s mothers and fathers.
“It really recognizes him for the brave business sense he has,” Barigar said. “Chobani as a company is not that old. It recognizes him for his business, but also points to his personal philosophies and his support of immigrants and his personal commitment to some of the challenges of the refugee crisis internationally.”