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NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR-Caterpillar Inc.’s six-month search for a plant in which to produce motor grader construction equipment ended with the finding and acquisition of a 712,000-square-foot vacant industrial building. The Peoria, IL company will sink $140 million into the facility, which was once used to manufacture video tapes and DVDs.

A spokesman with Caterpillar says the company’s current motor grader production facility in Decatur IL is being dedicated to the manufacture of off-highway trucks. The result was a search beginning in June 2008 for a likely a new location to put together motor graders.

“One of the key things we wanted to do was find an existing facility that would work for motor graders,” the spokesman says. “The facility in Little Rock was ideal. It was the right size, had a great location right on the highway and it was well-maintained.”

Another advantage was that the 14-year-old facility at 9201 Faulkner Lake Rd. also unoccupied, though it once housed Deluxe Media Services, a DVD producer. When parent company Rank Group of London sold Deluxe Media to ODS Business Services Group in Germany during 2006, the plant closed down.

The Caterpillar spokesman says some of the renovations will include installation of overhead cranes as well as manufacturing infrastructure and concrete reinforcement in some areas. “The building itself is in very good condition, the square footage is right and we think compared to other alternatives, such as a green field, this worked best for us,” he says.

Terry C. Hartwick, president and CEO of the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce says renovation on the outside infrastructure is necessary as well. “There will be some sewer work and other utilities to be added,” Hartwick tells GlobeSt.com. “The state is pitching in about $3 million to get that all done.”

The end result will be worth it, he continues. “If you think of this adding 500 jobs, that’s anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 people added to the population base,” he Hartwick says. In addition, auxiliary supplier services are also likely to spring up in the shadow of the plant. “If you have one of that magnitude come in,” he comments, “others tend to follow.”

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