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Construction, Manufacturing and Sustainable Energy Power Peoria's Economy

Caterpillar Inc.
Caterpillar Inc.

From tractors to turbines, dozens of large corporations are making their home in America’s heartland.

One of the most recognized names in construction and mining, Caterpillar Inc. has been headquartered in Peoria since the early 1930s, shortly after the business was founded. Producing track-type tractors, wheel dozers and industrial loaders in addition to engines, work tools and many other machines, the international corporation is the largest employer in the area. Since 1991, it’s played a major role on the stock market as one of the 30 companies included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Another company in the same sector, Tokyo-based Komatsu, also operates out of the city. Its Peoria facility, which opened in 1997, manufactures large dump trucks.

But it isn’t all construction and big equipment making a splash in Peoria. L.R. Nelson, which is headquartered here, produces its lawn and garden watering systems through retailers including Costco and Home Depot.

Metal manufacturing is big business, too, with Morton Metalcraft Co. and Keystone Steel and Wire Co. employing around 1,000 workers each.

A new and exciting aspect of local business is emerging: sustainable resources. Firefly Energy is meeting the energy crisis head-on by revolutionizing how people see battery power. The company, which has been featured in <I>Fortune Small Business</I> magazine, uses state-of-the-art technology to produce a new kind of lead-acid battery with as much as 80 percent less lead than traditional batteries.

BioFuels Manufacturers of Illinois has also proposed to build a soy-based biodiesel plant in Peoria, and wind-power startup Smartenergy was awarded a $25,000 seed grant by Peoria NEXT, a local incubator pushing for technology-based companies to relocate to the area.

Nationally recognized accounting firm Clifton Gunderson is also based in Peoria. The company, with 45 offices across the nation, has been noted as one of the country’s best places to work.

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