Caterpillar Inc manufacturers large agricultural equipment—and quite successfully so—but the company has just announced plans to move roughly 500 jobs to Decatur on the news that it will be closing its plant in Aurora.
On Friday, the company announced it had been considering the move since January, a move which would relocate the company’s production facility of large wheel loaders and compactors. The company has also said it has plans to move its medium-wheel loader production facility to one in Arkansas.
According to Caterpillar Inc spokeswoman Lisa Miller, the move should relocate roughly 500 positions to the Decatur facility while another 150 will move to North Little Rock. This compensates almost all of the roughly 800 positions that would be otherwise lost at the Aurora plant.
Caterpillar group president of Resource Industries, Denise Johnson, notes that the moving of production from Aurora to other already existing plants within the Caterpillar family will allow the company to more efficiently leverage manufacturing capabilities while retaining upturn capacity. More importantly, though, she confides that “supporting impacted employees” through the process of this transition is one of the company’s highest priorities.
In addition, Caterpillar president of Economic Development Corp of Decatur and Macon County, Ryan McCrady, notes that this move is actually quite a good example of the high quality employees who are already succeeding at the Decatur facility. In addition, it is a major sign of growth that the company is growing (since it can, in fact, support more employees at this facility).
Most importantly, perhaps, this testament could easily represent consequential growth throughout the whole of the community. For example, a single manufacturing job in Decatur helps to support three-and-a-half additional jobs in the local economy. Furthermore, higher wages in any community encourages more attention from various types of retailers.
According to City Manager Tim Gleason, the city of Decatur continues to extend an open-ended offer to help his company with aspects of growth like recruitment, workforce development, and other various incentives that make it easier to attract better quality workers. He specifically thanks Caterpillar for taking advantage of this mindset and working to find ways to bring more jobs to the area.
On the other hand, of course, this does involve a transition and that could be hard for some existing workers, and not just for those at the Aurora facility. Still, at the end of the day, the closing of Aurora’s doors is not the end of the road for those employed there.