Caterpillar closing Summerville plant, affects 280

By Stacy

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) - Caterpillar{}plans to close its Summerville remanufacturing plant next year, a move that will put 280 people out of work.

"It'll be a hit in our corporate citizenship. Caterpillar's a marquee name," Dorchester County Economic Development director Jon Baggett said.

Baggett said the county will help the employees get back on their feet.

"It's going to be over a year time frame so we'll have time to work with the dislocated workers," he said.

The company decided the plant in Summerville wasn't competitive anymore, as clients were turning to other suppliers, Caterpillar official Barbara Cox said.

But Baggett said Caterpillar workers were skilled and marketable, especially in the Lowcountry's fastest-growing industries.

"We in the Charleston region need good manufacturing employees to fill some roles. They'll be able to help and step up and work for other companies," he said.

Baggett said Economic Development has already notified state employment agencies to help. He also said they're working on efforts to bring in some new businesses, but those names are confidential.

The Dorchester County plant tears down, recycles and rebuilds heavy-duty transmissions and related components for original equipment makers, which then resell the parts to aftermarket buyers.

Full-time Summerville employees will receive severance packages, and the company said it plans to work with agencies that provide outplacement services.

Caterpillar has other plants in Sumter and Greenville, and a logistics operation in Fountain Inn.