The Aurora Cooperative, with about 550 employees and 65 locations, held an open house early this year for its new $8 million corporate headquarters.
The building site, just east of Aurora, is within the 44-acre FFA Leadership Center campus, allowing for a partnership between the two entities, says George Hohwieler, the cooperative's president and CEO.
The new state-of-the art headquarters building is a total of 41,000 square feet with two floors and a basement.
Over recent years, Aurora Cooperative has been expanding in Nebraska and out-of-state, with grain and other facilities Kansas, Texas and Indiana. Its four key business areas, according to Chad Carlson, vice president of the grain division, are agronomy, grain merchandizing, animal nutrition and energy.
Bill Schuster, president of the farmer-owned cooperative board, said during the open house that 11 years ago gross sales were just under $200 million. "Today, gross sales are nearly $1.1 billion."
Aurora Cooperative began in 1908, when 25 area farmers formed the Aurora Elevator Co., which at the time consisted of wood cribs.
The Nebraska Vocational Agriculture Foundation agreed to a 99-year lease of three acres to Aurora Cooperative.
Hohwieler spoke of the future leaders in the industry who come through the Leadership Center. The center, among many activities, conducts training programs for hundreds of FFA officers each year.
Aurora Cooperative leaders envision working more closely with the center's staff, including providing mentoring programs for youth. In return, because the new headquarters contains high-tech telecommunications equipment, youth at the Leadership Center will have access to some of that technology.