Northern Ireland

Caterpillar in £7m Northern Ireland investment

Wheeled material-handling machine
Image caption Wheeled material-handling machines are used for scrap sorting and handling

US engineering firm Caterpillar says a £7m investment in its Northern Ireland factories will create new jobs.

The company is to begin manufacturing vehicles used in the scrap metal and forestry industries.

Currently the firm only makes generators across its plants at Larne, Belfast, Springvale and Monkstown.

The new operation will require 100 positions. Some will be new jobs while others will involve retraining existing staff.

Diversification

In September 2012, the firm cut more than 700 jobs as it moved some manufacturing to China.

It later added about 200 jobs in a "shared services centre" which provides back-office support for Caterpillar's global operations.

Caterpillar Northern Ireland operations director Robert Kennedy said all of its local plants would benefit from the investment.

"We are very pleased to have the support of Invest NI and the Department for Employment and Learning to make this investment which will enable new work to come to Northern Ireland, providing an important addition to our existing operations.

"This expansion recognises the high standard of the facilities, processes and skills in Northern Ireland."

The announcement was made by the first and deputy first ministers, who are in the US on a business development trip.

Peter Robinson said: "The project is especially important as it has the potential to help attract additional projects from the wider Caterpillar family.

"This new project for Northern Ireland will also offer our local workforce the opportunity to develop key transferable skills that will add value to our manufacturing sector, bringing further economic benefit."

Martin McGuinness said: "This £7m investment supported by a range of assistance, from both Invest NI and the Department for Employment and Learning, will ensure that Caterpillar has the support it needs to fully realise its manufacturing potential within this key area.

Image caption Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness made the announcement while on a visit to the US factory

"The 100 quality manufacturing positions required to run the operation will generate salaries in the region of £2.2m annually, ensuring that existing employees and local people have an opportunity to progress high value career development opportunities."

The ministers made the announcement after meeting senior management at Caterpillar's headquarters in Peoria, Illinois.

Invest Northern Ireland offered Caterpillar more than £1m to secure the project, and the Department for Employment and Learning offered £220,000 through its Assured Skills Programme.

US-based Caterpillar bought over the Northern Ireland engineering firm FG Wilson - which makes diesel generator sets - in 1999.

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