CHICAGO (CBS) — After nearly a century in central Illinois, Caterpillar Inc. has abandoned plans to build a new headquarters complex in Peoria, and has announced it is moving its corporate offices to Chicago.
“Caterpillar’s Board of Directors has been discussing the benefits of a more accessible, strategic location for some time,” Caterpillar CEO Jim Umpleby said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
Caterpillar said it expects about 300 employees eventually will be based at its new headquarters in Chicago once it is fully operational. The vast majority of its employees and operations will remain in Peoria, which has been the company’s hometown for more than 90 years. The exact site of the new headquarters has not yet been determined.
“Growth comes from investing in our products, and our services, and our solutions. We have to find a way to get back to that. Peoria remains our hometown, despite establishing a new global headquarters in Chicago, and we are confident that this move — all of these announcements we are making today – are what will get us there,” Caterpillar spokeswoman Rachel Potts said.
Potts said Caterpillar didn’t just now realize Peoria is a 2 ½-hour drive from O’Hare International Airport.
“I look back to where we peaked with sales and revenues in 2012. That was $66 billion. In 2017, five years later, we are expecting sales and revenues to be $37.5 billion at the midpoint of our forecast. That’s a big drop. Two-thirds of our sales are outside the U.S.,” she said.
Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said he’s disappointed some Caterpillar jobs will be leaving for Chicago, but he said he’s pleased the overwhelming majority of employees will be staying.
“If Caterpillar succeeds globally, we win in Central Illinois. I’m disappointed we can’t keep every job here, but if moving some of its team near Chicago helps Caterpillar thrive, it will benefit Peoria, our county and the surrounding communities,” said Peoria County Board Chairman Andrew Rand.
Those who will work at the new company headquarters will include the CEO; group presidents; some vice presidents; some financial, legal, and human resources staff; and support staff.