It was an emotional afternoon in the Peoria Federal Courthouse Friday as our country gained dozens of new citizens.
Patrick Peronnet's parents flew in from France to watch their son accomplish yet another American dream.
"It is a very, very, very special day, very proud, very happy," said Peronnet.
The 45-year-old and Pierre Lewin own Supply Chain Services International or SCSI. It is an American company that helps Caterpillar receive and store parts from its suppliers, conduct quality control and do final inspections. It has over 500 employees working in 23 facilities in six countries, thanks in large part to Caterpillar.
The company's expansion has mirrored Caterpillar not only globally, but also locally by placing its home offices in Peoria, along with the bulk of its employees.
"My first trip out of Europe was to Peoria. It was 17 years ago in 1994 and I said 'Wow, I really love this place.'"
Peronnet moved to Peoria in 2005 because of SCSI. He has spent the last five years working to become a citizen. Lewin achieved his citizenship last year.
"The business was not the reason to become American, but it was the way to become American because in order to move to American you have to find a job and the best way is to make your own," said Peronnet.
The foreigners, who have employed hundreds of workers locally for more than a decade, are now Americans too. They not only appreciate the business success they've achieved, they want to make sure Peoria succeeds as well.
"What's next is Peoria, oh yes, America, big time," he said.