Caterpillar closing Elkader plant

Published: Mar. 17, 2017 at 3:32 PM CDT
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Caterpillar announced plans to close its Elkader plant by the end of the year, impacting 75 jobs.

The company notified employees and community leaders Thursday. The plant was closed Friday but will reopen on Monday for normal operations.

Caterpillar says it is transferring the operations to a facility in Wamego, Kansas.

"The actions taken today will help optimize current and future manufacturing operations and leverage the existing support structure in order to make the best use of manufacturing capacity," Caterpillar spokesperson Janice Walkers said in a statement to KCRG-TV9. "Caterpillar knows this is difficult for its employees and their families, but steps must be taken to position the company for long-term success."

Caterpillar makes heavy machinery, primarily for farming and construction. The Elkader facility manufactures excavator buckets, wheel loader buckets and blades for those machines.

Caterpillar has undergone several rounds of layoffs in recent years, most recently in December of last year. In 2015, the company announced it would cut 10,000 positions and close up to 20 facilities nationwide by 2018. The company has indicated those cuts and restructuring would save about $2 billion per year.

Emily Yaddof, director of Elkader Economic Development, said the city and county hope to take steps in the coming months to deal with the closure. She says the main goals will be helping workers who lose their jobs find new ones in Clayton County and to find a business to fill the Caterpillar space.

Governor Branstad just toured the Elkader facility last April. Part of the visit focused on the need for more skilled workers. Caterpillar had doubled its workforce in 2015 at the Elkader plant from 40 to 80 workers.