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Unemployment Numbers Could Change

The Daily Leader
March 22, 2017

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Location Change Really No Issue Here

Feb 3, 2017
Pontiac Daily Leader

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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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Leader: CEO Feels It Has Been A Good Year

Pontiac Daily Leader
November 3, 2016

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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.