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Interview on Pontiac Caterpillar’s Future

WJEZ interview with Caterpillar’s Pontiac Factory Manager Steven Harding and Adam Dontz of the GLCEDC.

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Jobless Rate Creeps Up In October

November 19, 2016
Pontiac Daily Leader

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District Moving Full STEAM Ahead

November 15, 2016
Pontiac Daily Leader

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WEEK News: Community Leaders See Growth at Caterpillar’s Pontiac Facility

WEEK News 25
November 2, 2016

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CAT Hiring in Pontiac

September 15, 2016
CIProud.com (link to article)

We’re used to seeing Caterpillar in construction zones, but in Pontiac, we are seeing construction zones in Caterpillar.

“By restructuring and making the space more efficient and by having a large facility, a million square feet, we could leverage a lot of existing resources here,” the facility’s product manager Susan Toher said.

The CAT facility in Pontiac is going through a $12 million upgrade to make room for the production and people they are getting from plants in Thomasville, Georgia and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Shannon Ziegler was working in Thomasville when he learned the company was consolidating.

“It all sunk in, you know, yeah, we’re going to be losing our jobs, but we’re going to make the best and we’re going to do the right thing and we’re going to keep our integrity high,” the third shift group manager said.

He is part of the select few who were able to move back to Pontiac. It’s the same facility where he originally got his start with the company.

“How could you not want to come back to a facility and a community like this,” Ziegler said.

“We have had a few folks that transitioned with the business. Many of the jobs, most of them were hires from the local area,” human resources manager Kevin Kramer said.

Robert Armour is one of those locals.

“I know a couple people who have worked here, so I decided I’d give it a shot,” he said.

He’s been with the company for just two weeks. And he’s not alone.

The Pontiac facility has hired 80 new employees with plans to hire at least 80 more much to the delight of those in the area.

“To see everything grow into Pontiac, it’s going to be fantastic,” Ziegler said.

Aside from the open space, the company chose Pontiac because Livingston County was able to offer them incentives to stay put.

The transition should all be complete by the end of this year.

Cat Plant Gets Makeover for Consolidation

September 16, 2016
Pontiac Daily Leader (link to article)

The sprawling, 1 million-square-foot Caterpillar facility of Pontiac opened its doors to the press Thursday morning, as officials gave local media a short presentation and fielded questions, as well as taking the visiting journalists on a tour of the plant — a rare occurrence in the 38 years that Caterpillar has operated within the building.

The local Caterpillar plant has had plenty of reason to show off in recent months. Since the $1.6 million deal between the heavy equipment corporation and several municipal and school entities within Livingston County was finalized earlier this year, the local operation has added 80 new employees, and has plans to add 80 more by January.

The essence of the agreement was for the governmental bodies to pay Caterpillar approximately $1.6 million to retain its current employee base of 550, and to offer additional money for jobs the plant creates, along with a tax abatement on the table if certain job creation criteria are met over the next five years.

The Livingston County Board, the main financial backer, had clawback provision protection should Caterpillar renege on the deal in some way — namely, by closing the plant.

During the presentation, Susan Toher, the plant’s product manager, said that the addition of the jobs also coincided with the closure of Caterpillar facilities in Thomasville, Ga., and Santa Fe, N.M., and those plants’ operations and equipment consolidating in Pontiac.

During the tour of the plant, Steven Harding, the plant’s facility manager, pointed out that $12 million in equipment investments had been added to Pontiac, and that areas of the facility that were empty would soon be completely full.
Before the consolidation, Toher noted that the Pontiac facility, a fuel systems plant, made fuel injectors and pumps. After the consolidation, she said that the after-treatment parts previously made in Santa Fe — which she compared to catalytic converters in vehicles — would now be made in Pontiac. She said that the company had done a lot of “moving around and reconfiguring” to make space for the incoming equipment.

On the decision to consolidate, Toher said that a corporate analysis was done to assess advantages and disadvantages of where consolidation would occur, and found that the Pontiac location’s square footage would allow for “leverage of existing resources.”

Toher said that much of the additional work being done at the facility is similar to what had been done before, but some new jobs would require skilled labor, such as welding, which had not previously existed at the Pontiac plant.

Kevin Kramer, the plant’s human resources manager, said that most of the hires following the consolidation were local, estimating that 25 to 30 of the recent hires were transfers from the Santa Fe and Thomasville plants.

The deal brokered between the public and private sectors was not reached without critique; when asked about such criticism, Kramer said the decision “showed us that the community really values Caterpillar and its presence in the community, and we view it as a very positive thing.” He hoped that Caterpillar’s own involvement in the community, such as its $100,000 donation to United Way, showed that the positive relationship was reciprocal.

After the tour, Caterpillar employee Shannon Ziegler, who is a Livingston County native, Pontiac facility veteran and, most recently, a transfer from the Georgia facility, said he was not at all surprised that Livingston County had stepped up to make the Pontiac plant as attractive an option as possible following consolidation.

“This town as always been good for all the businesses here, but it was just amazing (hearing about the deal),” he said. “It just really sunk right to your heart.”

Pontiac’s Caterpillar Plant Adds 80 Jobs

September 16, 2016
PANTAGRAPH (link to article)

PONTIAC — Pontiac’s Caterpillar plant has reached the halfway point of its promise to hire 160 employees by next summer.

“We have hired 80 new employees since the January announcement and have plans to hire at least 80 more employees by early 2017,” Senior Public Affairs Manager Jamie Fox said.

In January, Caterpillar announced plans to add about 160 jobs to its existing Pontiac plant as a result of company restructuring. The announcement came following an economic incentive agreement with the company and Livingston County taxing bodies, which abated property taxes as incentive for the plant to stay in the county and add jobs.

The fuel systems facility in Pontiac marked its 38th year in operation this year, but new operations will be added as part of the restructuring, said Susan Toher, product manager for the Pontiac facility.

“Our plant looks totally different than it did in January,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of construction and a lot of preparation to bring some jobs here. If you walked through the facility last year, you would not have thought we would have room. But we relocated 114 machines and we found the room.”

The Pontiac plant is about 1 million square feet, she said. The new positions include the manufacturing of subcomponents for engines for some of Caterpillar’s bigger machines.

In announcing the restructuring in January, the Peoria-based manufacturer announced that five other plants would close, resulting in a net loss of 670 jobs. However, the Pontiac plant was given a vote of confidence with the announcement that some work would be transferred in.

“Our employees are really excited and as a company, we are all working hard to be competitive, and improve our safety, overall performance, and efficiency goals,” she said. “The company sent a positive message to us and it’s great to see our employees and the community stay behind us.”

About 700 employees now work at the Pontiac plant.

“With different types of work, come more opportunities and we have seen a lot of long-time employees applying for new positions in an effort to gain some new skills,” Fox said.

County’s Unemployed Numbers Fall

Pontiac Daily Leader
By Paul Westermeyer
Staff Reporter

On Aug. 26, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced that, although job growth was slow in areas of the state, the rate of unemployment had also decreased between July 2015 and July 2016 statewide. Both Pontiac and Livingston County saw an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent drop to 5.2 percent in that span.

Pontiac City Administrator Bob Karls welcomed the news for Pontiac. “The falling unemployment rate is definitely good news,” he said. “It means that our employers are doing well and, because of that, the unemployment rate is dropping.

Karls declined to speculate on what reasons may or may not have c ontributed to the declining unemployment rate, saying that there were “so many factors to consider,” such as workers residing outside the county being employed by local businesses, as well as how the way that the unemployment rates are tabulated may not absolutely reflect the exact size of the workforce.

Still, the city administrator was optimistic about what the numbers meant for Pontiac, and had echoed conversations he and others in the municipal government had had with employers in the area.

“This is certainly indicative of what we’ve heard from employers — that their employment numbers have remained strong,” he said. Karls referenced the Caterpillar plant in Pontiac, which has added jobs since the intergovernmental incentives and tax abatement agreement finalized in late January, signed by the company, the City of Pontiac, the Livingston County Board, other municipal govern mental entities and several school boards.

Adam Dontz, CEO of the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, which was instrumental in creating the Caterpillar incentives package, highlighted his organization’s role in helping thin the rate of unemployment in the area.

“Given the substantial capital investment and hiring announcements by multiple employers, I am not surprised Livingston County’s unemployment rate has fallen,” Dontz said. “The GLCEDC has worked with Anthony Liftgates of Pontiac, Caterpillar of Pontiac, RKO Saw of Cullom and Selig Sealing of Forrest to implement hiring incentives and/or property tax abatements recognizing their job creation and building expansions.

“Collectively, these companies have announced over 190 new jobs and nearly 30,000 square feet of building expansion.”

In its release, the IDES added that, over the year, non-farm payroll employment was unchanged at 1 4,000. Manufacturing and financial activities had the largest increases in employment, while the trade, transportation and utilities, educational-health services and leisure-hospitality sectors had the largest declines from a year ago.

Caterpillar Hiring at Pontiac Facility: CNC Grinding Specialist

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Caterpillar Hiring at Pontiac Facility: Lathe/Mill, Drill, Bore Specialist

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