An expansion of 250 jobs is headed to Arkansas at the North Little Rock Caterpillar plant, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced at a press conference at the facility last week.
“Let me put an exclamation mark on it,” Hutchinson told a group of local dignitaries and several hundred Caterpillar employees. “Caterpillar is creating more than 200 jobs in Arkansas!”
The North Little Rock opened in 2010, and has made motor graders since the start. Last year, the plant added medium wheel loaders and with this move production will begin on cold planers and rotary mixers, said Paul Rivera, the plant’s operations manager.
“We’re looking to hire 250 people,” he said and added the plant has 515 people currently employed there. “The investment [Caterpillar] is making here is $40 million from 2017 to 2020.”
Hutchinson called the moves Caterpillar is making, “exciting” and added that they were “reshoring jobs back to the United States.”
Which is not entirely accurate.
Rivera said that the cold planer production coming to North Little Rock is from a Caterpillar facility in Italy, the bulk of the jobs are for medium wheel loaders that were formerly produced at Aurora, Ill., a plant that Caterpillar announced they were closing earlier this year and with the production lines based there headed to North Little Rock and Decatur, Ill.
Rivera, who started his Caterpillar career at Aurora was bittersweet about his former plant closing.
“It is sad to see it go,” he said. “I think, you know, that it just part of the business.”
Rivera said production of medium wheel loaders would get ramped up later this year and cold planers and rotary mixers would begin production in 2019 and 2020.
Rivera added that multiple information sessions and a job fair would be held in the coming weeks to attract a larger pool of candidates.