Suburban officials roll out welcome mat for Caterpillar
Suburban mayors and economic development leaders put out the welcome mat Tuesday after Caterpillar said it will move its global headquarters from Peoria to an undetermined location in the Chicago area.
"I'd love to be in the mix," said Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens, mentioning a "great spot" of vacant property near Mannheim and Higgins roads.
"We're in an economic development renaissance right now and Caterpillar would be welcome," said Larry Deetjen, village manager of Oak Lawn.
But beyond that, he and others were tight lipped. "Oak Lawn works with all businesses in a confidential manner at all times until public approvals are required for any comprehensive development," Deetjen said.
"Unfortunately, there is nothing I can discuss right now," said John Carpenter, president and CEO of Choose DuPage.
Peoria-based Caterpillar plans to move its global headquarters to the Chicago area later this year by leasing office space for senior executives. The new office ultimately would house about 300 workers.
The new location has not been determined, said Caterpillar spokeswoman Corrie Heck Scott.
"The decision is being driven by the need to grow Caterpillar again, which we believe will be aided by being located near a global transportation hub in order to improve access to global customers, dealers and our worldwide operations," Heck Scott said.
Caterpillar, which makes construction equipment, engines, turbines and diesel-electric locomotives, already has operations in Montgomery, LaGrange, Joliet and inside the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago.
"Since 2012, about two-thirds of Caterpillar's sales and revenues have come from outside the United States. Locating our headquarters closer to a global transportation hub, such as Chicago, means we can meet with our global customers, dealers and employees more easily and frequently," CEO Jim Umpleby said in a statement.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which provides tax incentives packages for corporate moves, said it was not involved in Caterpillar's plan to move to the area.
Since the company decided to move, it will not build the previously announced headquarters complex in downtown Peoria. The current headquarters building will continue to be used for Caterpillar offices.
The Peoria Journal Star reported that Caterpillar's continued vows to stay in Peoria changed due to lost revenue and a decline in the industry. It has cut about 16,000 employees in recent years and saved about $2.3 billion. But its sales and revenues for last year were about 40 percent below its peak in 2012.
• Daily Herald Staff Writer Christopher Placek contributed to this report.