DEERFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — The global headquarters of Caterpillar Inc. will no longer be in Illinois.
Wednesday, company officials announced the headquarters will move from its current location in Deerfield, IL, to the company’s existing office in Irving, TX.
Illinois has the biggest concentration of Caterpillar employees anywhere in the world, according to officials.
“We believe it’s in the best strategic interest of the company to make this move, which supports Caterpillar’s strategy for profitable growth as we help our customers build a better, more sustainable world,” said Chairman and CEO Jim Umpleby.
Caterpillar’s statement does not indicate whether the move will affect any of the 12,000 employees working in the Peoria area. The CEO of the Economic Development Council, Chris Setti seems confident that the move will not change the Peoria economy any time soon; the company has a major foundry in Peoria County, their largest distribution facility and a logistics center in Morton, and tractor production in East Peoria.
“We will remain the largest employment center for Caterpillar in the entire world and they have some really amazing functions here that there’s no indication that they’re planning on moving,” said Setti.
Local officials and lawmakers react to the news
Peoria’s Mayor, Dr. Rita Ali also responded to the news.
“It had been rumored for some time that they might be going to Texas. So, I think in some ways it was certainly disappointing, but not a total surprise,” she said. “I honestly don’t see an economic impact to Peoria now. I mean it certainly was five years ago when we lost over 200 people to Deerfield, but I don’t see a big change economically. I don’t see a big change to facilities or employees within our area.”Dr. Rita Ali
City of Peoria Spokesperson, Stacy Peterson released a statement after the news broke on the move.
“Caterpillar continues to have a significant presence in Peoria as an employer and as a civic and philanthropic leader. We wish them well with this move and will continue to support their employees and team members here in Peoria.”City of Peoria
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker also issued a statement reacting to the move.
“Illinois is on the rise: we’ve built more small businesses than our big state counterparts like California, Texas, New York and Florida; we continue to be a leader in attracting large and midsize corporate relocations; our GDP growth is outpacing its pre-pandemic rate and we’re at our highest population in state history. It’s disappointing to see Caterpillar move their 240 headquarters employees out of Deerfield over the next several years when so many companies are coming in. We will continue to support the 17,400 Illinoisans who work for the company in East Peoria, Mapleton, Mossville, Pontiac and Decatur – which remains Caterpillar’s largest manufacturing plant in North America after the company’s recent expansion. My administration will continue to drive job growth throughout the state, making clear to the world why Illinois is the best state in the nation to live, work, play and do business.”J.B. Pritzker, Illinois Governor
Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) is running for reelection in the Peoria area, and released a statement as well.
“Caterpillar’s decision to move its headquarters from Illinois is deeply disappointing, as was its leadership’s misguided decision to leave Peoria in 2017. The Greater Peoria Area and central Illinois remain the home to much of Caterpillar’s workforce in Illinois, and this decision will leave many workers in our community with questions that deserve answers from Caterpillar’s leadership. I will continue to work to ensure that Caterpillar’s leadership keeps their commitment to Illinois’ workforce and minimizes any repercussions this could have on our downstate communities.”US Rep. Darin LaHood (IL-18)
Randy Diehl, the president of UAW Local 974 union, said the union has no comment.
The move to Texas begins this year.
A timeline of Caterpillar’s moves
Caterpillar was established in Peoria in 1910. It remained in the same location for more than 100 years and became a family business for many Peorians.
When interviewed at the beginning of his 2022 Caterpillar internship, 19-year-old Julio Vargas said he is following his father’s footsteps as he embarks on a career at Caterpillar.
“I think CAT’s always been something that I’ve strived for. My dad worked for CAT growing up, he worked in marketing as well. Yellow blood runs through these veins and I was taught CAT pride from a young age,” Vargas said.
However, the company announced a surprising move to Deerfield, IL in 2017.
The news on Jan. 31, 2017, initially sent shock waves throughout the city of Peoria. For many at the time, it was the city’s worst nightmare come true — leaving much uncertainty.
“Caterpillar is always going to be in the DNA of this community. So it was a kick in the gut to catch our breath for certain,” said Jeff Griffin, former president of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, said in 2018, recognizing the one year anniversary of the move.
The concern over the facility’s move was citywide, as 10% of Caterpillar employees and thousands of stockholders live in the Peoria area. However, as Setti put it, “the sky hasn’t fallen” since CAT moved out.
But, just like the 2017 announcement, this move comes as a surprise.
“I was surprised because no one had heard it was going to happen, but corporations make decisions every day about their future and so I don’t think the impact on central Illinois and the Peoria area is going to be felt at all,” said Setti.
The news of the move to Texas comes after two reported occupational deaths in Illinois Caterpillar facilities in the past year: Scott W. Adams, 50, died in a fall from a ladder at the Mapleton facility last year, and Steven Dierkes, 39, died after falling into a crucible at the same facility earlier this month.
While Caterpillar’s statement does not indicate whether the move will affect any of the 12,000 employees working in the Peoria area, the company is continuing to hire workers in Illinois. Just last week, Caterpillar was looking to hire 50 new employees at its Pontiac facility.