£7m Caterpillar investment will create new jobs

The F.G. Wilson factory in Larne. INLT 38-315-PR
The F.G. Wilson factory in Larne. INLT 38-315-PR

Manufacturing giant Caterpillar has announced a major £7 million investment at its factories in Larne, Monkstown and Belfast.

The US engineering firm, which currently only makes generators across its Northern Ireland plants, is to begin assembling wheeled material handling machines that will be sold in international markets.

And part of the investment will focus on skills development to create 100 high quality manufacturing positions required to run the operation.

While some of the positions will be new jobs, others will involve existing staff being retrained.

The announcement will provide a boost to the local econmony following last year’s devastating job losses, when the firm (then FG Wilson) cut more than 700 positions as it moved some manufacturing to China.

The major investment was announced during the First and deputy First Ministers visit to Chicago, where they met with Caterpillar senior management at the company’s headquarters in Peoria.

Invest NI has offered Caterpillar over £1million to secure the project. The Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) has also offered £220,000 through its Assured Skills Programme.

First Minister Peter Robinson said: “Caterpillar has a long tradition of manufacturing and I welcome that this is the first manufacturing project to be located in Northern Ireland from outside the firm’s Electric Power Division.

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

East Antrim MLA, Stewart Dickson said the investment was “excellent news” for Northern Ireland, and particularly for his constituency.

“This investment shows that Northern Ireland and east Antrim in particular are good places for major international companies to do business,” the Alliance representative added.

“It is the latest in a number of encouraging signs for our economy following other jobs announcements here. The jobs that will be created are exactly the kind of value-added jobs which Northern Ireland needs to sustain and grow if we are to rebalance our economy.”