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Caterpillar plant is Victoria's top news story of 2010

ALLISON MILES

By ALLISON MILES
Dec. 31, 2010 at 6:31 a.m.
Updated Dec. 31, 2010 at 7:01 p.m.

Top 10 news of 2010

Caterpillar's decision to construct a 600,000-square-foot hydraulic excavator plant at the Lone Tree Business Center promises to change the Crossroads for years to come.

The company announced its intent Aug. 12 at a joint meeting between the city council, sales tax board and commissioners court.

Plans for the project, a $120 million to $150 million investment, call for 500 employees and production is slated to begin in mid-2012.

It took time, effort and a veil of confidentiality to lure the company to Victoria, Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp., said after the initial announcement. The corporation worked for about nine months, working together and, eventually, Caterpillar decided Victoria was the right fit. Caterpillar broke ground at the facility Sept. 23.

That relationship with Caterpillar didn't end just because the Crossroads bagged the project. Business leaders and elected officials on Dec. 20 ventured to the company's new Seguin plant for a look at how it works.

Mayor Will Armstrong said he was impressed with the lengths the company took to ensure everyone was properly trained for their roles.

Workers wore gloves with barcodes on the back, he explained, and the machines they worked on scanned the gloves. If the worker attempted to work at a machine he wasn't certified on, it shut down.

"It's manufacturing down to a science," Armstrong told the crowd at the Dec. 21 Victoria Partnership meeting.

The next step in the story is selecting a general contractor for the project, Fowler said, adding that the company hopes to begin moving dirt in February.

Fowler said he's proud of the project and looking forward to what the future has to offer. Aside from the initial jobs Caterpillar will bring, there is potential to bring additional manufacturing-type positions to Victoria, he said.

"We haven't had anything of this magnitude in some time," he said, of the project. "This is big."

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