Montgomery Caterpillar plant to remain in open into 2019

By Erika Wurst For Chronicle Media

The Caterpillar plant in Montgomery will stay in operation for part of next year but the manufacturer still plans to close it down and sell the property. (Chronicle Media photo)

Once slated for complete closure by the end of 2018, Montgomery’s Caterpillar plant will continue active operations well into the new year.

Village of Montgomery President Matt Brolley said the village was notified by Caterpillar officials in August about the company’s plans to continue operations until around July 2019, with all plant activity winding down toward the end of the 2019 calendar year.

“The folks I know who currently work there are still busy with production,” Brolley said. However, the plant’s closure does seem eminent.

Brolley said the UAW Hall, which serves as a union lodge for CAT workers, was recently listed for sale—yet another sign that the end is near for the plant that brought the village to life when it opened in 1958 and employed upwards of 7,000 people.

In the meantime, the 370-acre plant along U.S. Route 30 remains on the market for sale and Brolley had made it his mission to remain involved in that process.

Last year, local Kendall County officials teamed up to form the CAT Taskforce, which was designed to bring steak-holders together to market the plant property and plan for a future without the global manufacturer in town.

It was reported that the plant’s closure could mean more than $465,000 in lost property tax revenues in addition to lost sales and income taxes, losses to contractors and other businesses that supply the plant, and potential stress on the local housing market caused by relocating workers.

Brolley said the CAT Taskforce, which consists of local and state government officials, hasn’t met frequently over the past year, but continues to be in contact with Caterpillar officials and the site’s marketers to receive updates on the future of the property.  That said, Brolley wants to be even more involved.

“We continue to push back a little bit on CAT to keep us more in the loop with the marketing of the property,” he said. “I would love for Oswego, Montgomery and Kendall County to be more involved in finding a user for the sight that makes sense to the future of our area.”

While Brolley would ideally love to see one user come in and take over the entire property, it makes sense that several users might eventually occupy the space. He said this diversity will assure the village that such a huge upheaval of jobs, taxes and residents cannot happen again.

“My hope is that as we move closer with someone who wants to purchase the property we will be more engaged,” Brolley said.

The next conference call planned between Caterpillar officials, marketers and the CAT Taskforce will take place in November. Should a purchaser come forward before the plant ceases operations next year, Caterpillar would most likely enter into a lease-back agreement with the buyer to lease the property still is use.

The closure of the Montgomery plant is part of an overall restructuring the company is undergoing.  Caterpillar also landed a blow to the Central Illinois region when it announced earlier this year it was abandoning its Peoria location and moving its headquarters to the Chicago suburbs.

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— Montgomery Caterpillar plant to remain in open into 2019