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Caterpillar plant expansion means 100 more jobs, another $70 million investment, for Victoria


June 17, 2011 at 1:17 a.m.

Besides constructing another building, Caterpillar's plans for the site's largest building have since expanded from 600,000 square feet to 850,000. The expansion took place during the development process.

An additional 100 jobs are on their way to the Crossroads, as Caterpillar expands its Victoria hydraulic excavator site, the company announced Friday.

Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar will add another 200,000-square-foot building, a $70 million investment, to its Victoria plant, said John Jones, facility manager for the Victoria site.

The building, still in the design phase, will be home to production welding and machining processes.

Caterpillar in August announced plans to construct an 850,000-square-foot hydraulic excavator plant in Victoria. The investment at the time was about $130 million.

Based on analysis of future customer demand, it made sense to increase capacity to better serve customers, Gary Stampanato, Caterpillar's vice president with responsibility for hydraulic excavators, said in a news release.

"In addition, we have also determined Victoria is the right location to produce selected fabrications for the excavators that will be assembled in this new facility," he said.

Excavator production in Victoria is slated to begin in mid-2012. Once fully operational, the Victoria plant will produce seven excavator models and will employ about 600 people.

The new facility will more than triple Caterpillar's capacity of hydraulic excavators produced in the United States and will more than double the number of Caterpillar employees nationwide making excavators, according to the news release.

"We continue to aggressively increase our excavator manufacturing footprint with investments like this as part of Caterpillar's long-term strategic initiative to remain the global leader in this industry," Rich Lavin, Caterpillar group president with responsibility for construction industries, said in the release.

Construction already is under way for the first portion of the project.

About 33 percent of the floors have been poured, Jones said, and about 25 percent of the walls are completed. Crews are beginning to set the roof structures, too.

Although original plans called for the building to be about 600,000 square feet, the company has upped that to 850,000 square feet, Jones added.

"Generically, we're on target," he said. "Things are going very, very well."

Caterpillar's growth announcement is good news for the Crossroads, said Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp.

It means additional primary jobs, he explained, which bring about additional jobs for supporting industries in retail, restaurants and the like.

"The Sephora counter at JC Penney will be more successful because there are more people to use their products," he said.

The economic development corporation is in discussions with various suppliers about locating here, Fowler said, and Caterpillar's announcement could be good news on that front.

The announcement indicates an increase in volume, he explained. The greater the volume, the better the case for potential suppliers to locate in the region, versus shipping parts from wherever they're currently located.

The expansion is a sign of Caterpillar's confidence in the Crossroads, Jones added, agreeing that it means good things to come.

"This sets the stage for future growth," he said. "It's exciting."



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