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Caterpillar to expand, add 250 new jobs in West Fargo

WEST FARGO - Caterpillar is embarking on a $50 million expansion to its West Fargo plant that will nearly double the company's 300-person workforce here, the company said Monday.

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WEST FARGO - Caterpillar is embarking on a $50 million expansion to its West Fargo plant that will nearly double the company's 300-person workforce here, the company said Monday.

The project includes a 225,000-square-foot addition to the current facility, which remanufactures parts for Caterpillar mining equipment. Work begins this month and is scheduled for completion in June.

It's expected to bring about 250 new jobs to the city in the next three years - a boon for a city that lost hundreds of manufacturing jobs as recently as 2009 during the thick of the economic downturn.

"I'm one happy camper," said West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern. "To me it shows they're committed to staying in the region."

For Mattern, that commitment wipes away any lingering concerns of relocation he harbored after the company bought Gremada Industries, another remanufacturing company here, in 2008.

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"The one thing you always worry about when a large company like Caterpillar buys something, you always in the back of your mind worry if they'll stay or if they'll consolidate elsewhere," he said.

Beginning this spring, Mattern joined other state and local officials and economic development groups in lobbying Illinois-based Caterpillar to expand here. Governor Jack Dalrymple lauded the move as a victory for the state's business climate.

"We emphasized that Caterpillar would benefit from a workforce that is second to none, that they would benefit from a responsive state government with strong business support services and that they would also benefit from low corporate and property taxes," Dalrymple said in the announcement of the expansion.

Though Caterpillar's ownership of the West Fargo plant is relatively new, its roots here run deep. Gremada, its predecessor, was founded in 1962 by the sons of Francis Butler, then the president of Caterpillar equipment dealer Butler Machinery. The following year, the company began refurbishing parts for Caterpillar.

"We have a 40-year history in West Fargo," said Dan Bozung, a Caterpillar spokesman. "This represents the next chapter in that history."

He said remanufacturing - restoring used and banged-up parts to good-as-new condition - is attractive because it's sustainable and saves money.

"It reduces material costs. It allows us to put new life into components," he said. He also said strong demand for commodities worldwide has bolstered the mining equipment industry.

The expanded plant will remanufacture drive train components for trucks and other equipment. The parts themselves are massive, sometimes weighing tens of thousands of pounds.

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The expansion will include high-tech manufacturing facilities and a state-of-the-art metallurgy lab. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for mid-August.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502

Related Topics: WEST FARGO
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