Caterpillar Inc. will move its global headquarters to the Chicago area from its longtime home in central Illinois this year, as it continues to grapple with weak demand for its earth-moving equipment, according to a story on

Caterpillar, currently based in Peoria, Ill., cites recruiting and access to a global transportation hub as factors in the decision to move about 300 senior executives and staff to Chicago, starting this year.

"They'll be moving basically what I call the seventh floor of downtown — the senior executives and some HR people," says Lex Akers, dean of the Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology at Bradley University in Peoria, which is named after the company.

The world's largest construction and equipment maker did not specify the exact location of its new headquarters. It will not build a previously announced headquarters complex in Peoria, where the company was founded in 1925.

The decision marks a significant step away from the past by Caterpillar Chief Executive Officer Jim Umpleby, who took over on Jan. 1. He faces the challenge of reversing a multiyear sales decline triggered by the global commodities slump.

Eli Lustgarten, senior vice president for Longbow Research, said the move to the Chicago area represents "new management looking for greater efficiency in dealing with its global business."

The company cut 12,300 jobs in 2016, including 7,700 in the United States. It is also considering closing two major production facilities, including one in Aurora, Ill.