Contractor to use local NC subcontractors for Caterpillar plant

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The Winston-Salem Journal reports Gray Construction of Lexington, Ky., chosen as the general contractor for the Caterpillar Inc. plant in Forsyth County, plans to hire as many local companies as feasible to help build the 850,000-square-foot facility.

Potential subcontractors, suppliers and vendors will be judged on five key criteria, said Jill Wilson, the vice president of communications and marketing for Gray. The criteria are: most competitive price, the scope of the bidder’s work and experience, references, safety record, and financial performance and stability, she said.

“We are very in tune with hiring locally because we understand the economy and the jobs impact our projects can provide,” Wilson said. She estimated there will be 150 to 300 employees at the work site daily when full construction is under way.

“We also want to follow Caterpillar’s commitment to hire locally within the set parameters,” Wilson said. As part of its announcement, Gray said it has selected Cavanaugh & Associates of Winston-Salem to help with the site development. The company does engineering-consulting work for major land projects.

“The award of other packages will start within the next 30 to 45 days and will be phased throughout the construction process,” Wilson said. Gray’s project manager can be accessed by e-mailing to caterpillar@gray.com.

Gray was chosen over at least six other known bidders — only one with ties to the Triad. The company said it has designed and built nearly 460 manufacturing plants in the United States with a combined space of 53 million square feet.

Although it is Gray’s first major project with Caterpillar, Wilson said, the company has experience in building plants where heavy equipment is used in an assembly-line format.

For example, it is about to complete construction of a 277,000-square-foot plant for Siemens in Hutchinson, Kan., focused on producing wind energy nacelles — 90-ton, oblong steel structures that are perched atop wind-turbine towers that house generators, gears and electrical systems.

Gray is facing a challenging construction timetable. Caterpillar officials have indicated recently they plan to begin production before the end of 2011, two to three months sooner than its initial projection. The company will break ground on its $426 million plant on Friday. Wilson said that the grading subcontractor will begin work next week. It expects to have the plant completed in April 2012. The plant, when fully operational, will have 392 Caterpillar and 118 contract employees.

City and county officials have encouraged Caterpillar to consider local companies for the project, especially in light of being made eligible for up to $23.5 million in local incentives.

Those officials said they are confident that local companies still will be considered for subcontractor work, including grading, utilities, electrical work, masonry, heating and ventilation. Read More.

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