Caterpillar Inc. announced Wednesday it is considering moving as many as 800 production jobs from its Aurora, Illinois-area plant to facilities in Decatur, Illinois and North Little Rock, Arkansas.
If completed, the move would put an end to manufacturing operations at the suburban Chicago plant, which is actually located in Montgomery despite its Aurora name.
Production of large wheel loaders and compactors would shift to downstate Decatur and medium-wheel loaders to North Little Rock.
The Peoria, Illinois-based heavy equipment maker has struggled in recent years, beat up by tough emerging market conditions, drops in commodity prices, and unfavorable foreign exchange rates. All of those headwinds have combined to sap demand for Caterpillar’s products, forcing the company to lay off thousands of workers domestically and overseas.
“Faced with lower demand, we continue to evaluate our global manufacturing capacity,” Denise Johnson, Caterpillar’s resource industries group president, said in a news release. “We must use our existing space in the most efficient way possible while maintaining the ability to meet demand when it returns.”
Local officials expressed concern over the possible loss of jobs and offered to work with Caterpillar on the issue, the Aurora Beacon-News reported.
“We want to engage them as much as we can,” Aurora Mayor Robert O’Connor told the Beacon-News. “We value the jobs, and the presence the company has had in the community all these years.”