Governor Deal’s announcement that Caterpillar will locate a new manufacturing plant in Oconee County underscores the importance of improvements in Savannah River access to the Port of Savannah.
“The Athens site was selected from among dozens of locations considered due to its proximity to major ports, a strong regional base of potential suppliers, a positive and pro-active business climate and a good pool of potential employees with manufacturing experience,” [Caterpillar’s Building Construction Products Division (BCP) President] Bell added.
From the press release:
Global manufacturer announces it will locate U.S. factory in Clarke and Oconee counties
Gov. Nathan Deal and Doug Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc., announced today at the Capitol that Caterpillar will locate a new manufacturing facility in Clarke and Oconee counties. The new facility will be part of Caterpillar’s Building Construction Products Division (BCP), and when fully operational will have about 1,400 employees and a total investment in Georgia of $200 million.
“This is an extraordinary day for our entire state, and a game-changer for Clarke, Oconee and surrounding counties throughout northeast Georgia,” said Deal. “The excitement and promise of today’s announcement are why we’re fighting so hard to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation to do business. Caterpillar will find a happy home here, and our state’s logistics, workforce, speed and efficiency will give the company an edge in the global marketplace. We appreciate Caterpillar’s confidence in Georgia’s workforce and continued investment in our state through this new BCP operation.”
Caterpillar will locate its new one-million-square-foot facility on more than 250 acres of a prominent industrial site, commonly known as the “Orkin Site,” that spans Clarke and Oconee counties.
“I am thrilled to be in Georgia today to announce that this site near Athens will be the location of Caterpillar’s newest production facility in the United States,” said Oberhelman.
“Our objective with this new facility is simple — to better serve the large base of customers who use the machines we will make at this new factory,” said BCP Vice President Mary Bell. “The Athens site was selected from among dozens of locations considered due to its proximity to major ports, a strong regional base of potential suppliers, a positive and pro-active business climate and a good pool of potential employees with manufacturing experience,” Bell added.
The new facility in Georgia will become Caterpillar’s global source for small track-type tractors and for mini hydraulic excavators. The new facility will provide completed machines for customers in North and South America. In addition, the company also plans to export partially assembled mini excavator base units to a facility in Europe, where final assembly will take place, improving delivery times for European customers.
The capabilities of Georgia Quick Start, the state’s renowned program that customizes its workforce training process to a company’s needs, was a major factor in Caterpillar’s decision. Working through Athens Technical College, Quick Start will train Georgia workers in the full spectrum of Caterpillar’s needs – including those working in the office and production employees. Caterpillar intends to break ground in March 2012 and begin operations in late 2013. The company anticipates that the vast majority of employees at the new facility will be hired locally, and it will use the website www.jointeamCaterpillar.com to fill most jobs at the new facility.
Caterpillar will also leverage the location’s excellent proximity to two major interstates and its current relationship with the Georgia Ports, which its existing operations in Georgia currently utilize.
“We are thrilled to welcome Caterpillar as our newest corporate citizen and look forward to the opportunity to partner with them in their success,” said Athens-Clarke Mayor Nancy Denson. “Our two counties joined forces to support this project because of its vast potential to create job opportunities and revitalize our local manufacturing industry.”
“Caterpillar’s location in our county will be a major force in establishing an industrial base that balances our residential development and diversifies our tax base,” said Oconee County Chairman Melvin Davis. “With this location, the company will become the largest private employer in Oconee County and an integral part of our community.”
Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Senior Project Manager Chip Mitchell led the state’s project team. Significant assistance was also provided by Electric Cities of Georgia.
“The partnership between the business leadership of Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County is outstanding, and has been absolutely essential to make this location happen,” said Chris Cummiskey, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Regional partnerships like this make a real difference to companies and are nothing but a win-win for all parties.”