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Caterpillar is moving its world headquarters to Texas

Tim Shelley
Peoria Public Radio

Caterpillar is moving the company's world headquarters to Texas beginning this year.

Caterpillar CEO Jim Umpleby said he believes it's in the "best strategic interest" of the earthmoving giant to relocate the company's base to an existing facility in Irving, in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.

A corporate spokesperson said the company didn't receive or request any incentives to relocate its world headquarters to Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted that his state is "a perfect fit for this international brand."

This comes about a month after aircraft manufacturer Boeing announced it is moving its world headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Va.

In a statement, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker claimed Illinois is still on the rise despite Tuesday's news.

"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," he said.

He said Illinois continues to attract midsize and large corporate relocations, and he touted economic positives like a GDP growth stronger than the pre-pandemic rate.

Pritzker said Illinois will continue supporting the more than 17,000 Caterpillar employees working in East Peoria, Mapleton, Mossville, Pontiac, and Decatur.

Some of Pritzker's Republican gubernatorial rivals panned the governor following the announcement.

"JB Pritzker just does not get it. You cannot virtue signal & tax your way to a better economy," tweeted Jesse Sullivan, a venture capitalist from Petersburg.

Greater Peoria Economic Development Council CEO Chris Setti said he doesn’t believe Caterpillar’s announcement changes the company’s commitment to the region.

“They employ well over 12,000 people in the area, and they're actively hiring,” said Setti. “I think that this is a corporate move, and obviously they have their own rationale for why Irving, Texas, makes more sense to them than Deerfield, Ill. But I think it’s business as usual when it comes to the Greater Peoria area.

“They have their center for research and development here. They manufacture truck-type tractors in East Peoria, they have their largest parts distribution center in Morton, and they have one of their most important foundries in Mapleton. So I don't see how any of those are going away anytime soon.”

The City of Peoria issued a statement on the move, saying Caterpillar maintains “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,” the statement continued.

Caterpillar previouslyannounced it was moving hundreds of jobs to Irving in 2021, when the company relocated its Electric Power division to the city. About 120 people currently work at the Irving office. A spokesperson said the majority of the 230 positions in Deerfield will transition to Irving.

Caterpillar abandoned plans to construct a new world headquarters in Peoria in 2017 when the company instead relocated to suburban Deerfield. About 300 employees worked out of rented office space in the area when the new headquarters opened.

At the time, Umpleby cited Deerfield's proximity to Chicago and O'Hare International Airport for the move from Peoria.

Setti noted American Airlines offers direct flights from Peoria International Airport to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, which is directly northwest of Irving.

“We're just as accessible, at least via airplane, as we were to the Deerfield headquarters,” he said. “So I'm not worried about the connectivity between the Peoria operations and headquarters.”

Setti declined to speculate as to reasons why companies such as Caterpillar would choose to relocate out of Illinois.

“We have corporations that make decisions all the time as to where to invest, and each of them has their own reasons for why it makes sense for them,” he said. “Just yesterday, we had an announcement in Bloomington-Normal about Ferrero expanding operations there. We've got organizations like OSF here in Peoria that are investing here; UnityPoint, Amazon, a whole variety of companies, and they're all making decisions individually and based on what is best for their company.

“Obviously, we would love to see more investment in Illinois and Peoria in particular. But every company has got their own mix of reasonings for what makes sense for them.”

The company's been based in Illinois for a century.

This story will be updated.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.
Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.