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Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 5:00am

Caterpillar Eyes March Construction

Caterpillar could break ground on its new Georgia plant within the next two weeks as more details emerge about the project's timeline.

Land planner Jon Williams said he submitted plans for the $200 million facility Friday afternoon, just hours after the Peoria, Ill.-based firm announced they would build it near Athens.

Williams said the Athens-Clarke and Oconee County governments are expected to approve the plans by March 5, and Caterpillar could start clearing the land as soon as the following day.

Caterpillar has said initial production at the plant is expected to begin in late 2013. Officials say they plan to ramp up to full production over a five-year period.

Company officials said the plant will directly employ 1,400 workers once it's fully operational.