Electro Motive Diesel considering leaving La Grange facility
Caterpillar, the publicly traded construction management giant, announced through its railway services subsidiary Progress Rail Services that it is considering closing its historic Electro Motive Diesel (EMD) facility in La Grange.
According to Railway Age, corporate leaders are examining the option of consolidating EMD’s manufacturing functions with a facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. There are also considerations to outsource specific manufacturing functions to third parties.
EMD has used its La Grange facility from its earliest days. In fact, the company is currently headquartered there. This closure could mean the loss of up to 600 jobs.
Suzi Wirtz, president and CEO of the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told West Cook News that the closure of the facility would be unfortunate.
“From a regional perspective, any business that leaves the area is unfortunate,” Wirtz said. “Our chamber has a dedicated Workforce Development committee whose mission is to explore all potential, regionwide initiatives in which our involvement and partnerships could secure the greatest possible economic benefits for our member businesses and residents."
Caterpillar indicated that the consideration of closure comes from a strategic analysis by corporate leaders.
“Progress Rail routinely reviews its strategic footprint and, as a result, is evaluating how to use its existing manufacturing space as efficiently as possible to remain a competitive supplier to the rail industry,” Caterpillar said in a statement.
Wirtz mentioned that attracting industry from all over is essential for the local economy and the state of Illinois.
“It is our goal to attract businesses, residents and visitors to the region, not move them away,” she said.
However, Caterpillar’s announcement to consider closures, consolidations and restructuring of business units reflects on the company’s continued struggles with a reduced, global workforce.
The potential closure of the La Grange facility apparently comes from a 2016 “trade-off” between the company and local elected officials in Winston-Salem, according to the local Winston-Salem Journal. The benefits of the reported trade-off involves an $8.7 million incentives package from local county officials. Winston-Salem is home to a much smaller Progress Rail facility that assembles railroad equipment. The La Grange facility manufactures locomotive diesel engines.