Parting with Peoria, Caterpillar decides on Deerfield
Deerfield Mayor Harriet Rosenthal says she's ecstatic but not surprised by Caterpillar Inc.'s decision to relocate its corporate headquarters to her suburban village from Peoria.
“We have a very strategic location,” Rosenthal told the Lake County Gazette. “We’re 20 minutes from O’Hare, have great commuter service to the city, six hotels, award-winning schools and outstanding housing options. All that makes for a great choice for any business.”
Rosenthal’s view appears to be shared by a growing number of the state’s Fortune 500 companies that have taken up residence in Deerfield, including Walgreens, Baxter International and Mondelez International.
“We spoke with them after they made us aware we were on a short list of places they were considering,” Rosenthal said of Caterpillar. No incentives were involved, she added.
“They’re set to begin reconstruction by the end of summer, and the first wave of workers arriving here will be about 100 people,” she said.
Ultimately, the company plans to relocate its global workforce of 300 to Lake Cook Road and the heart of the Deerfield Corporate 500 Centre.
The somewhat-surprise move goes against a trend of other large companies opting for the downtown Chicago area, including Oscar Mayer, Conagra Brands and Kraft Heinz. In fact, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel let it be known that the city was interested when the heavy earth-moving equipment manufacturer announced earlier this year that it would move top-level execs, including CEO Jim Umpleby, out of Peoria.
Caterpillar, which reported revenues of nearly $39 billion in 2016, already does have some operations in the Windy City, housing its newly launched digital and analytics center at downtown-based Merchandise Mart.
It also has a presence in nearby Aurora, but recently announced plans to cease production there by March 2018. The move is expected to trigger the layoffs of some 800 workers largely responsible for supplying large and medium wheel loaders and compactors. The company said it plans to maintain a home in that western suburb for some white-collar workers.
According to Crain's Chicago Business, Caterpillar boasts a workforce of around 12,000 at its Peoria location, and officials insist they remain committed to the area as their “hometown” base, despite sales and revenue having dipped by 40 percent from 2012 levels.
Corporate execs sad they plan to lease rather than build their new Deerfield command center, using any remaining resources to reinvest in other areas that might stimulate wider growth.