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Caterpillar Leaves Illinois After Decades to Move to Texas

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(Bloomberg) -- Caterpillar Inc., the producer of iconic yellow construction and mining equipment, is moving its headquarters to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, effectively ending its century-long history calling the state of Illinois its home.

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The machinery producer believes the move will help it attract new talent and improve global access to its employees, customers and dealer network due to the two major airports in the region, according to an email to Bloomberg News. The company said in a statement it will begin shifting its Deerfield headquarters to Irving, Texas, this year, affecting 230 jobs.

Caterpillar, with more than 107,000 employees globally, is the latest major company to relocate to Texas, following in the footsteps of Tesla Inc. and Oracle Corp, which moved to Austin from California. The announcement is a blow to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, who is seeking a second term in November’s election, and a boost to Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

“Caterpillar’s global headquarters relocation is a major win for the people of North Texas and the entire state, now making Texas home to 54 Fortune 500 corporate headquarters,” Abbott said in a release Tuesday.

There’s been a flurry of high-profile corporate relocations to Texas in the past two years as companies seek to take advantage of the state’s relatively affordable costs of doing business, which include a zero income tax, as well as access to a large labor pool.

Caterpillar is following Boeing Co. in moving its headquarters out of the Chicago area. The airplane manufacturer earlier this year said it would be relocating to Arlington, Virginia.

“It’s disappointing to see Caterpillar move their 240 headquarters employees out of Deerfield over the next several years when so many companies are coming in,” Governor Pritzker said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to support the 17,400 Illinoisans who work for the company.”

Texas Expansion

The move comes just a year after Caterpillar chose Irving as the city for its Electric Power division, a segment of the company that manufacturers generators. That project committed to creating 500 jobs in Irving and investing $5 million into the community, according to Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce President Beth Bowman, who added that the region is now home to 10 Fortune 500 headquarters.

Caterpillar said in the statement it’s had a presence in Texas since the 1960s, but Illinois remains its largest concentration of employees in the world.

“We believe being in the Dallas Fort-Worth market will give us the ability to attract new talent and provide additional career opportunities for our current employees to aid in retention,” spokeswoman Kate Kenny said in an email. “We have more than 17,000 employees in Illinois,” including about 12,000 in the Peoria area, she said.

The company also said the Irving office will give employees access to a mix of downtown and suburban residential areas with a range of housing prices and high-quality school districts.

The transition comes five years after Caterpillar shifted its headquarters within Illinois from its long-time foothold in Peoria to Deerfield outside of Chicago, a move at the time that rattled citizens of the town in which it had built a global empire for more than 100 years. Caterpillar a month ago hosted its first investor day since 2019 in Dallas, introducing a new buyback plan. Chief Executive Jim Umpleby at the time in an interview dismissed recession worries, citing robust growth.

The 2017 move from Peoria came as the company looked to bolster its push in foreign markets. At the time it also officially scrapped a plan to build a new complex in its hometown.

(Updates with comments from Governor Abbott in fourth paragraph, details on Texas in fifth paragraph, details from Irving chamber in eighth paragraph)

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