Caterpillar Inc. officials confirmed Thursday morning that the manufacturer is considering closing its York Distribution Center.

The facility at 600 Memory Lane in Springettsbury Township employs 250 workers, according to company spokesman Jim Dugan.

Those employees were first notified in September that the company was contemplating a sourcing decision to move or shift the processing of dealer stock and emergency parts orders to another facility in the eastern United States, he said.

"We intend to finalize this decision by the end of March," Dugan said in an email.

Dugan said he had no further response when asked why the move is being considered.

If the company decides to close the York facility, the move would take effect in 2014, he said.

The Illinois-based heavy equipment manufacturer closed a much larger local facility in 1996, eliminating 1,100 jobs. Most of those jobs were held by members of the United Auto Workers, who had years of contract negotiations and strikes, including one that lasted 15 months.

The 126-acre plant site at 601 Memory Lane in Springettsbury Township was sold in 2002 for about $10 million and became the York Business Center.

Bob Jensenius, executive vice president of the York County Economic Alliance, took part in efforts to keep the company here during the mid-1990s and spoke about the company's current decision.

"If the decision hasn't been made, I hope the company reconsiders the advantages to staying in York County," he said.


Those advantages include a skilled workforce, a location that enables travelers to be in major metropolitan areas within a day's drive, and a lower cost of living than other metro areas along the East Coast, Jensenius said.

"We certainly want to keep those jobs in York County," he said.

The potential move would also be a loss to Springettsbury Township.

"We do not want to see those jobs leave the township," said John Holman, township manager. "They provide employment for local residents and help support the entire community."

Local Caterpillar operations began in 1955 and have been part of the York County fabric for nearly 60 years, according to Mike Smeltzer, executive director of the Manufacturers' Association of South Central Pennsylvania.

"It would be disappointing to lose 250 jobs at this point in the economy," he said.

Smeltzer said he would begin working with county and state officials to start a conversation with Caterpillar.

"We'll want to work with them and know what their reasons would be to relocate. Is it a wage issue, a logistics issue? We want to know why," he said. "And obviously we want to save those jobs."