Caterpillar to build new plant near Athens

ATLANTA — Caterpillar is relocating a new manufacturing facility on a 250-acre tract of land straddling the Clarke-Oconee County line.

The new facility is expected to employ 1,400 people and represents a $200 million total investment in the state, officials said. The Athens area plant will be part of Caterpillar’s Building Construction Products (BCP) Division.

“Caterpillar will find a happy home here, and our state’s logistics, workforce, speed and efficiency will give the company an edge in the global marketplace,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in a news release. “We appreciate Caterpillar’s confidence in Georgia’s workforce and continued investment in our state through this new BCP operation.”

The 1.1 million-square-foot facility — to be built on a site known as the “Orkin Site” near U.S. Highway 78 and Georgia Highway 16 — will provide completed machines for customers in North and South America. To serve European customers, the company also intends to export partially assembled mini excavator base units manufactured at the Athens facility to a European plant for final assembly.

“Our objective with this new facility is simple — to better serve the large base of customers who use the machines we will make at this new factory,” BCP Vice President Mary Bell said in a news release. “The Athens site was selected from among dozens of locations considered due to its proximity to major ports, a strong regional base of potential suppliers, a positive and pro-active business climate and a good pool of potential employees with manufacturing experience.”

Caterpillar also considered sites in North and South Carolina, media reports suggest.

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