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Caterpillar plans to stay in Peoria

Last Friday, Caterpillar announced its international headquarters would remain in Peoria.

As an American company known on a global scale for its construction and mining equipment, Caterpillar headquarters has been an employer and supporter of the Peoria community since its first plant opened with just 12 employees on Feb. 2, 1910.

More than 100 years later, Caterpillar has increased its employee base to more than 20,000 employees across Illinois, several of which are Bradley students hired as interns or full-time employees.

Senior organizational communications major Kate Carroll has been working for Caterpillar in various areas since the summer of 2014 in the corporate affairs division and the communication team.

“I think Caterpillar is a huge part of Peoria, and I think they play a huge role in developing the economy of the city and bringing a diverse group of people to town,” Carroll said.

Sophomore computer information systems major Keegan Lessard, who first started working with Caterpillar as a senior in high school, agreed with Carroll.

“They provide jobs obviously, but they [also] put Peoria on the map,” Lessard said.

A study at Caterpillar’s headquarters began two years ago with the intent to determine whether moving the company to a different state would be beneficial to the company, especially in terms of finances. However, upon determining that Peoria remained the best economic option, CEO Doug Oberhelman announced Caterpillar will expand its downtown headquarters by 31 acres.

“As a university, part of our goal is to forge strong relationships with our local employers,” Director of Employer Services and Career Advisor Sandy McDermott said. “With Caterpillar obviously being a large local employer, the fact they are staying here in the area is a positive for our students.”

As far back as the 1950s, Caterpillar has been involved in some way with Bradley’s campus community, from providing experiential learning opportunities to donating money for scholarships, grants and other projects.

“Being a corporate headquarters location, [Caterpillar] provides opportunities for all kinds of students in terms of backgrounds,” McDermott said. “They recruit from accounting to finance to computer [science] to engineers to communications.”

Many students have reported having a good experience with Caterpillar, according to McDermott.

“[Caterpillar has] a formal internship program, so they work hard to expose students to more than just their direct work assignment,” McDermott said.

Carroll echoed McDermott, saying Caterpillar works to professionally develop the students who intern for them.

“I think Caterpillar does an excellent job developing their employees into young leaders [by] developing them and placing them so they are put in the correct experiences that will help them be better employees in the future and really grow and develop with the company,” Carroll said.

Beyond employment opportunities, Caterpillar has been involved with Bradley through its support and financial backing for various initiatives. These include, but are not limited to, the establishment of the Caterpillar Global Communications Center and Caterpillar College of Engineering.

Oberhelman said in a statement company’s new headquarters the new building will consolidate local employees into one location, covering approximately six blocks, but he said construction would not begin this year.