South Milwaukee — The city is preparing for the possibility that Caterpillar, Inc. could be moving a good portion of its business out west.
Mayor Erik Brooks said the company is considering moving about two-thirds of its campus out of the city to Arizona. Caterpillar already moved out of one warehouse building on its campus at 1100 Milwaukee Ave.
That building recently went on the market.
Brooks said the company is looking to move a couple hundred white-collar jobs out of the city but plans to keep manufacturing in South Milwaukee. Caterpillar communicated its intent to do so with the city about six months ago, he added.
The city’s plan commission discussed possible measures to take if Caterpillar does move. Brooks said the commissioners reacted positively on embarking on such a plan at their November meeting. Brooks said he wants to work with both Caterpillar and the property owner, One Liberty Partners Inc., when it comes to plans for the property.
The city is also looking to work with Milwaukee-based consulting firm Graef to create a medium- to long-range site plan. They have done similar things with other communities, Brook said. He expects the discussion to continue in January with the possibility of a proposal passing to recommend to the common council for February.
“We want to be more proactive than reactive,” Brooks said. “We want to see what we want there and what we don’t want there.”
Brooks said it'd be a disappointment to see such a large portion of a major company leave.
“It’s a loss for sure,” he said. “These are real people with jobs and their families are impacted.”
However, Brooks also sees it as a small opportunity. Regarding specifics of what could go in the space, he said the city is open to many options, but they don’t want to over-plan.
“I want to see an active, vibrant reuse of that property,” Brooks said. “It could be a single industrial use or it could be a number of things.”