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Caterpillar to stay, modernize at York County distribution center

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Caterpillar Inc. will keep its York County distribution center on Memory Lane near Route 30 and make upgrades as part of its multiyear, global customer support enhancement initiative, the company announced this afternoon.

The firm has agreed to buy back the 1.1 million-square-foot facility it has been leasing as the first step in modernizing it, spokesman Jim Dugan said. The center primarily serves dealers and customers with parts in the Northeast and eastern Canada, he said.

Caterpillar had manufacturing operations in the township until they closed in the 1990s. The firm's current workforce on Memory Lane is expected to stay relatively the same at about 200, Dugan said.

The decision to remain ultimately was based on factors such as the firm's 60-year history in the community, the existing workforce and whether Caterpillar could accomplish what it wants to with the property, Dugan said.

Illinois-based Caterpillar, which makes heavy equipment and vehicles, had been determining for some time whether to close the distribution center in Springettsbury Township.

Dugan did not put a price tag on the local modernization investments.

Customer support with parts is paramount for a firm such as Caterpillar, he said.

If someone's car breaks down and is in the shop for a day, it's an inconvenience, Dugan said. But if a bulldozer on a job breaks down, time is money for the customer who depends on the equipment, he said.

The decision by Caterpillar to keep the facility and invest in York County is a win for the entire business community, said Michael Smeltzer, executive director of York-based Manufacturers' Association.

Having names such as Harley-Davidson, Johnson Controls and Caterpillar help to attract more businesses to the area.

"Corporations are no different than people," Smeltzer said. "Peer pressure matters."

Shares of Caterpillar are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol CAT.

Related stories:

Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, today: Caterpillar sends layoff notices to white-collar employees

Milwaukee's Fox6now.com, today: Caterpillar to lay off 115 employees from South Milwaukee plant

The Business Journal of Milwaukee, Sept. 24: Caterpillar, Joy Global have another problem: China

The Motley Fool, Sept. 20: Caterpillar leads the Dow's end-of-week plunge

Brent Burkey

Brent Burkey

Brent Burkey covers York County, agribusiness, energy and environment, and workforce issues. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at brentb@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @brentburkey.

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