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Caterpillar showing off new center in Spokane

$37 million warehouse part of global growth

One of the region’s newest and largest commercial buildings opens its doors Thursday morning to give invited guests a look around the new Caterpillar West Plains distribution center.

Those invited include Caterpillar officials and state and local dignitaries. They’ll walk through the recently completed, currently operating 565,000-square-foot building and attend a dedication lunch.

A number of area groups collaborated on recruiting Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar to build the new site. Before constructing this center, Caterpillar had a much smaller warehouse in Spokane Valley.

With a price tag of roughly $37 million, the warehouse will be Caterpillar’s parts distribution center for the Northwest and Canada, which includes equipment being sent to the booming Alberta tar sands oil fields.

Caterpillar spokeswoman Bridget Young said the plant has hired 150 workers and will operate six days a week: three shifts daily Monday through Friday and one on Saturday.

Despite a tepid economy Caterpillar has invested in a big expansion of its global Cat Parts distribution network. The Spokane center is one of a half-dozen large warehouse centers Caterpillar has built recently across the globe.

Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, and industrial gas turbines.

Caterpillar Inc. had revenue of $60.1 billion in 2011, up 41 percent from the previous year.

The Caterpillar warehouse is one of the region’s largest economic development projects of the recent past. The state offered $235,000 of indirect assistance to ensure Caterpillar chose Spokane rather than locating out of state, according to previous news reports.