Caterpillar to open new manufacturing plant in Waco in 2011

(Peoria, Illinois) — Caterpillar Inc. will spend more than $30 million to build a new manufacturing plant in Waco, increasing its already sizable presence locally and creating 60 new jobs.

The heavy-equipment giant announced it will place a 75,000-square-foot facility on General Parkway, where crews will make work tools, specifically large hammers that can be attached to machines and used like jackhammers.

This plant will sit next door to a Caterpillar plant that makes excavator buckets and quick couplers.
Caterpillar Inc., which built a distribution center in the 7000 block of Bagby Avenue, has announced plans to spend more than $30 million on a new manufacturing plant in Waco. (Jerry Larson photo, file)

“We’ll need skilled machinists and assemblers and a variety of other positions,” said Caterpillar spokesman Jim Dugan, adding that the plant should become operational in early 2011.

Caterpillar is calling this new plant a “precision manufacturing center” because creating the hammers will require more engineering input than producing the buckets.

“This really is exciting because it is Caterpillar’s fourth facility in Waco, and this one will have a larger design and engineering presence,” said Sarah Roberts, senior vice president of economic development at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce. That presence, she added, will translate to higher wages.

Caterpillar typically declines to comment on what it pays its employees, but Dugan said it has a good idea of prevailing wages locally because it already employs 300 people here.

Besides the bucket-making plant, Caterpillar operates a work-tools distribution center for North and South America. Caterpillar Logistics Services, meanwhile, operates another parts distribution outlet.

“Waco and the state of Texas offer a very positive business climate for globally competitive companies like Caterpillar,” said Larry Pillers, Waco work-tools project manager for Caterpillar. “We have developed a very strong working relationship with the community and its leaders, and we look forward to opening this new facility in Waco.”

Waco assistant city manager George Johnson Jr. said the city and county will consider giving Caterpillar $180,000 from the Waco-McLennan County Economic Development fund as an incentive for locating its new plant in Waco. The company also stands to receive tax breaks for five years on real and personal property.

To receive money from the economic development fund, a company must pay employees at least $12 an hour and provide health insurance equal to that provided by the city and county for their staffers.

“This really is an awesome development,” Johnson said of Caterpillar’s plans.

With 2008 sales and revenues of $51.3 billion, Caterpillar is a world leader in making construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines.

Source: www.wacotrib.coml

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