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Lawmakers weigh in on Cat statement

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Local lawmakers wasted little time commenting on a Caterpillar Inc. statement that it still is concerned about the state’s fiscal health as it continues to ponder whether to build a new world headquarters in Peoria.

State Senators Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, and Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap said in statements Friday that they shared Caterpillar’s concerns and want to figure out how to make sure the country’s number one exporter keeps its base in central Illinois.

“Caterpillar has long been one of the bedrocks of the Peoria region, and I hope that it will ultimately make a decision that will benefit both the company and our community,” Koehler said. “If Caterpillar’s management has issues that need to be addressed at the state Capitol, I am willing to work with them and community leaders to find solutions.”

Said LaHood, “How wemake sure the next plant that Caterpillar builds is in Illinois and not in Athens, Georgia. How we make sure that John Deere has more employees in Illinois than they do in Iowa, or ADM and building their next plant in Illinois. We in Illinois can change that by focusing on fiscal discipline, worker's compensation costs, taxes, labor costs."

Caterpillar issued a statement on Thursday that said even though it has now been two years since it started studying where it would build its new headquarters, a decision was not forthcoming. Its goals of modernizing the headquarters haven’t change because of its needs for the future, the company said.

“Our headquarters study remains focused on downtown Peoria. In addition to studying headquarters  options, we have also expanded the scope of our study to encompass non-manufacturing office space requirements for Caterpillar in the Peoria area – specifically East Peoria, Morton and Mossville. We are looking at a long-term, strategic plan for Peoria-area office space, which includes studying the correct size, scope and functionality of those facilities to better utilize the space we have. The study team continues to work on this expanded scope of work with our outside partners,” the Caterpillar statement said.

“However, a great deal of uncertainty still exists that could impact the outcome of the study. Current global economic and geopolitical risks could negatively impact Caterpillar’s business, as articulated in our recent quarterly financial news release. There is also continued concern about the long-term financial health of the state of Illinois and the impact the state’s poor financial health may have on local city and county governments, including communities in the Peoria area.”
 
Koehler said he understood that concern.

“Like Caterpillar, I am disappointed with this year’s state budget and Illinois’ ongoing fiscal instability. I continue to support a plan that will get Illinois back on the path to good economic health. A stable state budget is good for Illinois residents and good for our business climate,” he said.

Caterpillar acknowledged the state’s business climate was one of the factors considered when it was deciding where to consolidate the operations of its wholly owned subsidiary Anchor Couplings. The company announced last week that 170 jobs now in Sterling and Dixon being moved to Menominee, Michigan by the end of the first quarter next year.

Caterpillar iterated it has not set a time for making and announcing a decision about its headquarters. “In the meantime, we’ll continue to be engaged in the organizations and initiatives whose goals we share in moving Central Illinois forward,” it said.

 

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).