A new Caterpillar 308 mini-excavator will roll off the line that day, said Kevin Turner, a supply-chain planning engineer.
Turner and other Cater-pillar production workers told Clarke County middle school children earlier this week how the company will manufacture small tractors and the mini-excavator at the plant.
The line is going slow right now as workers test systems and work out bugs, but soon the factory near Bogart, Ga., will begin turning out 50 to 60 excavators a day, and about 20 tractors, Turner said.
Managers with the Peoria, Ill.-based manufacturing giant said the company could employ up to 1,400 people at the plant by 2018.
Caterpillar officials announced their plans and projections for the new plant in February of last year, in a ceremony that included Gov. Nathan Deal and elected officials from Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties.
Caterpillar, which in 2012 had about $66 billion in sales, had announced in November 2011 that it was looking for a place for its planned new factory.
The $200 million plant is on about 265 acres near Bogart off the old Atlanta Highway, part of 860 acres called the “Orkin tract.”
State and local authorities granted the international heavy equipment some $75 million in incentives to build the plant here. But the plant could have a much bigger local economic impact on the metro Athens economy – about $2 billion a year, according to figures cited by the company in announcing the new plant.
The plant will have a payroll of about $57 million a year, but those workers’ spending will create other jobs in the community, economists assume, and the plant’s economic impact also will include tax revenues.
The company has hired some workers, including crews that have been trained on production equipment and who will help train future workers.
Caterpillar has projected having about 300 employees by the end of this year, and 1,400 when the plant is fully scaled up.