In mid-2016 and earlier this year, Caterpillar said it was thinking about closing its facilities in Aurora, Ill., and Gosselies, Belgium, and moving production of products built at those locations to other plants. Now apparently, the thinking is done as Caterpillar has officially announced the closing of both sites.
Caterpillar said the large wheel loaders and compactors built at Aurora would be moved to its Decatur, Ill., facility, while a medium wheel loader line in Aurora will be moved to its plant in North Little Rock, Ark. A company spokesperson said that the plant will be closed by the end of 2018 and approximately 800 production workers would be laid off. Caterpillar will maintain engineering and product support in Aurora.
At nearly the same time, Caterpillar informed Belgian authorities of its decision to proceed to a collective dismissal, which will lead to the closure of the Gosselies site, impacting about 2000 employees.
Last September, Cat said it was contemplating allocation of the production at Gosselies to other manufacturing facilities. An information and consultation procedure in compliance with Belgian law was opened shortly after this announcement.
With the formal decision to close, production of Caterpillar products on the Gosselies site will be gradually phased out, with all production operations expected to end by mid-year. The other operations and functions on the Gosselies site are expected to be gradually phased out until the end of 2017.
Caterpillar and the Region of Wallonia have reached a balanced agreement in principle about the sale of the Caterpillar Gosselies site to the Sogepa, which is an investment company of the Region. In order to support reconversion of the site, Caterpillar agreed to sell the site, plus some of the installations and assets for €1. The sale is to be effective on June 30, 2018.