Caterpillar Inc. plans to relocate one of its major production factories from Japan to Athens, Georgia, and employ an estimated 1,400 workers.
The proposed $200 million, state-of-the-art, one-million-square-foot-factory will build small track-type tractors and mini hydraulic excavators. The new plant will include major fabrications, paint and final assembly for both product lines. Production is expected to begin in late 2013, ramping up to full speed over a five-year period. Caterpillar officials estimate another 2,800 full-time jobs will be created among suppliers and companies that will support the new facility.
"We are making a series of significant investments around the world to position Caterpillar to maintain its leadership position. We are even more excited that this project will create more than 4,200 jobs in the United States," said Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman.
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Location played a big part in the firm's decision about where to place its new facility, "The decision to shift production from Japan to the United States is driven by the proximity to a large base of customers in North America and Europe. Our objective is to better serve those customers from this new factory," said the firm's Building Construction Product's Division's Vice President Mary Bell. "The Athens site was selected from among dozens of locations considered due to its proximity to the major ports of Savannah and Charleston, a strong regional base of potential suppliers, a positive and pro-active business climate and a good pool of potential employees with manufacturing experience," Bell added.
The expansion will help local business suppliers in the area, Dr. Sharon Younger, President of Younger Associates research firm and faculty member of the Economic Development Institute, said. "Based on the production capacity of the new plant, I estimate the total economic impact to reach $2.4 billion per year as key suppliers locate in the region and the regional supply chain matures."
"Georgia is proud to have built a business climate that provides the logistics, workforce, speed and efficiency that global industry leaders like Caterpillar are looking for," said Governor Nathan Deal. "This new operation will resonate in our workforce and our economy for generations to come."
State economic development officials said significant assistance was also provided by Electric Cities of Georgia, more than $75 million in incentives, from a consortium of communities and electric companies in the region.
"The partnership between the business leadership of Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County has been absolutely essential to make this location happen," said Chris Cummiskey, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. "Regional partnerships like this make a real difference to companies and are nothing but a win-win for all parties."