EAST PEORIA, IL (AP) Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc. has won more than $84 million in contracts to provide heavy equipment to the U.S. military, something that one congressman said should happen more often now that Illinois has gained political clout in Washington.
U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Peoria), said Sen. Dick Durbin’s rise to second-in-command among Senate Democrats, coupled with Republican Rep. Dennis Hastert’s re-election as House speaker, gives Illinois influence that could channel more federal money to businesses in the state.
“I think Illinois is going to be well served and the citizens of the state are going to be well served by the kind of stewardship and leadership these two men will provide,” LaHood said at a news conference to announce the Caterpillar defense contracts.
The heavy equipment giant was awarded three federal contracts to provide bulldozers, forklifts and other machines that the U.S. military will use in defense and rebuilding operations around the world.
One of the contracts is to restore Caterpillar equipment used by the military to “like-new” condition, said Caterpillar group president Gerry Shaheen.
Caterpillar has rebuilt more than 2,500 military machines through the program over the last nine years, saving taxpayers about $250 million when compared with the cost of buying new equipment, Shaheen said. The latest contract, worth about $33 million, will upgrade about 500 more and return the equipment to service within 70 days, he said.
Durbin, who was on hand to announce the defense contracts, said the program ensures “the men and women in the field who rely on this equipment to perform their mission will always have the very best equipment.”
The other two contracts awarded to Caterpillar, a defense department supplier since World War I, are to provide new equipment to the military.
The company will get almost $26 million to provide about 300 forklifts that the Air Force will use to load and unload cargo from aircraft. Another almost $26 million contract will supply equipment the Navy will use for road and runway construction and other projects.
Shaheen said he did not know whether the contracts would create jobs, but said the company has added about 7,500 workers worldwide recently to meet rising demand for Caterpillar equipment.
“We will continue to do that as demand builds and we have to respond,” Shaheen said. “It all depends on the workload in those factories that make the equipment.”