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Caterpillar met recently with local elected officials, school leaders as site pick nears

READ MORE: Caterpillar met recently with local elected officials, school leaders as site pick nears

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Brunswick County could be a step closer to getting a big, new employer.

Sources say Illinois-based Caterpillar has ruled out its home state to relocate a Japanese factory and 1,400 jobs, but that our area is still on the list.

School officials in New Hanover County say Caterpillar talked to them and Brunswick County educators recently to discuss their schools. Why here? In an e-mail to Peoria County, IL, Caterpillar reportedly said it wants to move the factory closer to its facility in Cary and wants better port access.

We've seen it before: A major corporation considering Brunswick County for a plant, meaning hundreds, even thousands of jobs. Continental Tire ended up blowing out to South Carolina, but that was then and this is now. And now, sources say Caterpillar could dig in Brunswick County in the future.

Those sources also say that state legislators from our area met with the company just last week to discuss the idea.

Another source says Savannah, GA, and Charleston, SC, are in the running, and that a decision is expected in the near future, maybe as soon as next week.

Caterpillar is known for manufacturing construction and mining equipment. Earlier this week the company told Peoria, IL, that community is out of the running for the plant because of concerns with the state's labor markets and port access.

A spokeswoman for Peoria County told WWAY the county could not release the e-mail from the company, though a Peoria newspaper reported much of its details.

A Caterpillar spokesman told us he could not comment on the situation. He did say the location of the plant will be announced by April 1.

If the plant does come to southeastern North Carolina, it's a decision that could reshape the economics of the Cape Fear region.

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