Caterpillar experiences growth outside of Illinois
Caterpillar Inc., headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, recently announced that it will add 600 jobs over the next five years at a new facility in Tucson, Arizona.
The company, primarily known for its heavy equipment, said many employees in executive management, engineering, product development and support positions will move to the new Arizona facility from offices all over the country, including Illinois.
As Caterpillar increasingly relocates its production facilities, it makes sense for the company to move key positions closer to the new production facilities.
“Without knowing whether Illinois could have competed to attract these 600 jobs, it is absolutely clear that Illinois is not attracting the long-term investments that Caterpillar is making when it decides where to grow its future,” Illinois Policy Institute recently said.
Caterpillar CEO Douglas Oberhelman laid out what the state needed to do to compete for business and Caterpillar’s desire to stay in Illinois in an op-ed piece for The State Journal-Register in 2012. Unfortunately, politicians have largely ignored Oberhelman’s advice.
“Caterpillar has deep roots in Illinois,” Oberhelman said. “Over the years, we’ve employed tens of thousands of Illinoisans, including the 23,000 working and raising their families here today. My roots in Illinois are also deep. I attended public schools in Illinois, went to college in Decatur and have spent the bulk of my career in the Land of Lincoln. Illinois is Caterpillar’s home, and it is my home.”
Oberhelman said he was hoping the environment could change in Illinois so that the state could attract businesses and maintain current businesses. Even when Caterpillar started planning for new factories elsewhere, he wanted to make sure the company would stay in Illinois.
“Despite the fact that we have announced plans for dozens of new factories in the last few years and that our workforce in the United States has increased by more than 14,500 people in the last 10 years, we haven’t opened a new factory in Illinois in decades,” Oberhelman said. “Our workforce in Illinois today is at the same level it was 10 years ago. In short, when Caterpillar and most other companies look to locate a new factory in the United States, Illinois is not in the running for such projects. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
Oberhelman said he wrote a letter to political leaders in Illinois expressing his hope that the state would consider reforms so it could compete for jobs and long-term business investment that drives growth.
“To date, we haven’t seen much change,” Oberhelman said.
Oberhelman said he directly let Illinois politicians know what needed to be done to nurture companies, like Caterpillar, to stay, or even to move to Illinois. His suggestions included adopting a long-term, sustainable state budget that relieves pressures on taxpayers, tax relief and workers' compensation reform.
“Illinois continues to have the weakest manufacturing recovery in the region,” Illinois Policy Institute said. “All states experienced a manufacturing jobs bottom in 2009 or 2010 – but Illinois has had the worst manufacturing jobs recovery since then.”
The manufacturing industry has suffered more economic depression and job losses than any other industry.
“To stop the suffering, Illinois must enact reforms to make the state attractive for new investments in production facilities,” the Illinois Policy Institute said.