WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- Winston-Salem's Caterpillar plant is eliminating approximately 80 positions according to the company and Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines.

Joines says this was not unexpected as the plant transitions from manufacturing mining equipment to making supplies for railways. Mayor Joines said Caterpillar laid off employees during the transition but they could hire more workers once the switch is complete.

Caterpillar says operations will transfer to Progress Rail, a wholly owned Caterpillar subsidiary, on January 1, 2017, in an email sent Thursday.

A statement from Caterpillar says the positions cut are a combination of support and management and production jobs. The company says they'll try to place employees in other available positions throughout the company or help in their transition to a new job. Displaced employees will receive severance packages.

Joines said he is concerned about the individual employees who lost jobs but is pleased Caterpillar Inc. is re-purposing the Winston-Salem plant rather than closing it.

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