Caterpillar arrival means economic benefits for Victoria


Aug. 12, 2010 at 3:12 a.m.

The landscape of Lone Tree Business Park will begin to see a change of scenery when Caterpillar Inc. begins to construct a new plant on a 320-acre site in Victoria.

The landscape of Lone Tree Business Park will begin to see a change of scenery when Caterpillar Inc. begins to construct a new plant on a 320-acre site in Victoria.

Caterpillar Inc.'s announcement that it will build in Victoria means a substantial economic infusion for the Crossroads, area officials said Thursday.

The hydraulic excavator manufacturing plant, scheduled to break ground in September, brings an investment of $120 million to $150 million to Victoria and means 513 jobs, said Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp.

Those jobs won't come all at once, but will grow as the project does. Caterpillar expects to reach the 513-employee mark by 2014, Fowler said.

In total, an estimated 1,110 direct and indirect jobs will come on board throughout the plant's first 30 years in operation, according to an economic impact study by Austin's Impact DataSource. Those include positions in retail, restaurants and similar jobs.

Although the plant will likely take up 600,000 square feet initially, Caterpillar plans to fill the entire 320 acres of the Lone Tree Business Park as years progress, Fowler said. That property carries an estimated taxable value of $15,000 per acre, according to the impact study.

Additions to the local tax base, new houses and spin-off businesses making their way to town are all good news for Victoria, said Randy Vivian, president and CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

Victoria is estimated to receive an additional $19,540,822 in property taxes alone throughout the plant's first 30 years, according to the impact study.

"It's fantastic for Victoria," Vivian said. "This is going to be a shot in the arm for our economy. It just shows we're on a roll."

Pay scales for company positions have not yet been decided but cover a wide range, because they include everything from human resources professionals to engineers and operations managers, said Jim Dugan, Caterpillar's chief corporate spokesman.

Typically, Caterpillar waits until it decides on a location and then sends out a team to analyze the region and determine good, competitive rates. Competitive pay for Victoria will likely differ from rates in California, Dugan explained, because of the difference in cost of living.

Anything that's good news for the community is good news for the school district, said Diane Boyett, communications specialist for the Victoria school district.

Plant jobs require skill sets the school district and Victoria College can teach, she said. In turn, more students might remain in Victoria.

"When there are economic opportunities in the community for our graduates, that's a good thing," Boyett said. "When there's the opportunity to bring in new students into our community and into our schools, that's a good thing."

The district will receive an estimated $17,142,952 in net benefits during the plant's first 30-year period, according to the study, but Boyett said that means state funding will likely come down a little.

The impacts are multifaceted because they carry immediate, short-term and long-term effects for the community, said Robby Burdge, president of Klean Corp. International.

Entities such as the Port of Victoria, businesses and even the Main Street initiative will all benefit, he said.

"It's a testament to all those efforts behind the scenes to grow Victoria," he said. "It's a competitive market out there. This is monumental."

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