Cat. Plant Going to Georgia

By Denise Jackson

February 17, 2012 Updated Feb 17, 2012 at 7:38 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Illinois needs a better plan if it wants to compete for corporate jobs. 

That's what one economic development official said in reaction to Caterpillar's new plant going to Georgia.

Caterpillar's announcement that its new plant will be built in Athens, Georgia instead of its home state Illinois could likely mean more changes for the state legislature in its upcoming session. 

That's what Central Illinois Economic Development Council President Vickie Clark wants to see. 

"I think the most important thing for the state is to have a comprehensive program for economic development and in that you can have a wide range of activity to be able to deliver new jobs to the area and that's a real key," Clark said.

United Auto Workers 974 President Dave Chapman said the loss to Georgia could bode well for Central Illinois in the future.  Chapman says for the first time several groups and individuals worked together on the project.  He said they also lobbied the state on behalf of Caterpillar to fund more research and technology programs.

"If they're coming to the United States that may help us in the future.  They also sometimes re-organize according to how the business climate is and they could possibly bring jobs from another state here too.  You don't ever know, we're gonna try and stay on top of that," Chapman said.

Vickie Clark said the legislature should look at competitive best practices that other states like Texas, Wisconsin and Georgia are using which includes attractive tax incentives.  State officials have also talked about expediting the response time when potential business opportunities with companies like Cat exist.