TWIN FALLS • As a community college, the College of Southern Idaho’s role extends beyond offering traditional degree programs.
When a new major employer comes to the Magic Valley – such as the looming Chobani Greek yogurt plant – CSI often contributes to the employee recruitment and training process.
Chobani announced last month that it plans to begin construction on its multimillion-dollar Twin Falls plant by the end of the year and start producing yogurt there in mid-2012. It’s estimated the company will hire 400 people in Twin Falls.
A group of employees from CSI and the Idaho Department of Labor will visit the New-York based company’s headquarters Tuesday and Wednesday to talk about work force training needs.
“It will give us a better sense of what worker requirements will be,” CSI Instructional Dean Todd Schwarz said.
The college will bring several instructors along to the New York meetings from programs such as trade and industry, manufacturing technology, and air conditioning, refrigeration and heating technology.
Schwarz said he’s heard from Chobani that the Twin Falls plant will have technologically advanced equipment and machinery that’s advanced beyond what Chobani’s parent company, Agro-Farma, has at its upstate New York plant.
Kelly LaCorte, communications coordinator for Chobani, didn’t return a phone call Friday seeking comment.
CSI and the Idaho Department of Labor have been working together for weeks to prepare for Chobani’s arrival since the announcement took place.
“We’re taking the lead on recruitment and (CSI) will take the lead on training,” said Brent Tolman, regional business specialist for the Idaho Department of Labor.
Schwarz said the opening of the Chobani plant in Twin Falls will have “huge implications for new programs” at CSI, as well as possible changes to existing programs.
CSI would most likely provide training to “high volume areas” of Chobani’s Twin Falls operations — those with at least 30 or 40 employees.
Funding for training will likely come from the Idaho Department of Labor’s work force development training fund.
“It’s really up to them how to use the money,” Schwarz said.
As far as recruitment, the Twin Falls Department of Labor office will write the job listings and help schedule interviews with candidates.
“We’ll have more information once we return (from New York) and will have that timeline in place,” Tolman said.
The goal is to hire Twin Falls residents first, Schwarz says, and things will “move very quickly” after the meeting in New York.
He encouraged prospective job seekers to keep checking the Department of Labor’s website, but recruitment isn’t happening yet.
“Be ready, but be patient,” he said. “We’re not quite at that point yet.”