Caterpillar's move to Victoria promises boost to economy

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Aug. 12, 2010 at 3:12 a.m.

Victoria and the surrounding area received good news Thursday.

Caterpillar Inc., the global leader in manufacturing machines that excavate, dig and mine, will build a $120 million to $150 million manufacturing plant here in Victoria, bringing more than 500 jobs and a significant boost to the economy.

We congratulate the Victoria Economic Development Corporation for its work to bring Caterpillar to Victoria, and we extend accolades to the city, county and other entities that were instrumental in completing the deal.

The corporation will build state-of-the-art hydraulic excavators. These machines have a hydraulic "arm" that can use a variety of attachments, such as shovels, buckets and hammers. And as Jim Dugan, Caterpillar's chief corporate spokesman, said, these machines are used worldwide, and the demand for them is growing, especially in countries that are experiencing industrial growth.

In nearby Seguin, it was only about a year ago that Caterpillar started a plant to build engines. The Seguin plant was part of the reason Caterpillar chose Victoria because the Victoria plant will use the engines for the excavators here. Victoria's access to rail, good highways, and its port and nearby Port Lavaca's port were all significant attractions to Caterpillar.

According to VEDC president Dale Fowler, his team worked with the community to make the deal with Caterpillar by offering the entire 320 acres of the Lone Tree Business Center in trade for moving here and jobs.

"It's important that people know it was the community's help that convinced Caterpillar to come here."

That help included a $5.5 million incentive package, as well as $2 million worth of site improvements from the city and the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corp. A 10-year-tax abatement, yet to be approved, will be given to the corporation for improvements, including the 600,000-square-foot building it plans to construct on the property.

But the property at Lone Tree Business Center will be given to Caterpillar, thereby placing it back on the tax rolls.

Caterpillar also received an incentive from the state: a $1.175 million investment through the Texas Enterprise Fund. Dugan said Texas' favorable business climate was another reason Caterpillar chose Victoria.

Victoria County Commissioner Gary Burns said the new manufacturing plant would literally benefit everybody - from schools to the city and county to retail businesses. And Dugan said Victoria College will provide training for the plant's workers.

Dugan said the employees would mainly be in production - on an assembly line, but that other personnel, such as accountants, engineers and managerial experts, would be part of the plant's workforce.

Most know that VEDC received much criticism for the Lone Tree Business Center remaining empty since its establishment 10 years ago.

We know the wait paid off. And we hope Fowler can continue developing economic attractions here. We thank Fowler and his team, as well as all the entities that worked with VEDC to make this deal. And we thank Caterpillar for choosing Victoria.

We are sure Caterpillar will be a good partner for years to come.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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