Polaris Industries Inc. announced it plans to build a manufacturing facility in Alabama that focuses on the production of off-road vehicles, creating between 1,700 and 2,000 jobs.
Polaris said Huntsville was an ideal pick for its 600,000 square-foot facility because of the city’s skilled workforce, a history of technology and innovation, existing utility infrastructure, and local and state support. The 453-acre site also brings Polaris closer to its key customer base in the Southeast and offers a strong logistics network for the new operation.
“This new facility will complement our already strong and growing North American manufacturing footprint by reducing pressure on our existing facilities and enable each to remain focused on their current product lines as we continue to meet the demand for our innovative, quality products,” said Ken Pucel, a Polaris executive vice president.
Governor Robert Bentley welcomed the company’s announcement at a press conference this afternoon at the Jackson Conference Center in Huntsville. Alabama officials said the project represents an investment of at least $127 million.
“The Alabama workforce, our business climate and our quality of life continue to make Alabama extremely attractive to companies,” Governor Bentley said. “I am confident that Polaris will soon experience the same type of success that other companies in Alabama have already experienced.
“Alabama’s success in advanced manufacturing is a result of the state’s successful Accelerate Alabama plan, and Polaris’ off-road vehicle production strategy fits perfectly within our manufacturing goals,” he added.
‘A PERFECT FIT’
Medina, Minnesota-based Polaris will break ground on the Huntsville facility next month, with completion slated for the second quarter of 2016. Production will begin shortly thereafter. At full capacity, the Huntsville facility will employ at least 1,700 people, and Alabama officials say the figure could rise to 2,000 by 2020.
Polaris said the Alabama manufacturing facility will feature multiple assembly lines and state-of-the-art technologies. It will support core processes including vehicle assembly, chassis and body painting, welding, fabrication, and injection molding.
Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said Polaris, a manufacturer that prides itself on its engineering prowess, has found a good home in Huntsville, a city known for its high concentration of engineering talent.
“At Polaris, making great products is more than just a job – it’s a creed the company lives by,” Canfield said. “That’s what we do in Alabama as well. Our workers assemble and engineer great products from automobiles to ships and rockets to aircraft. Polaris and Alabama are a perfect fit.”
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said the Polaris facility is a significant addition to North Alabama’s economic base.
“Huntsville boasts one of the most talented and skilled workforces in the country, and our historic successes in economic development emphasize our commitment to education, quality of life, infrastructure, and a strong business climate,” Battle said. “We welcome Polaris to our community and look forward to a long and prosperous relationship.”
Battle noted that this was the city’s first major economic development project in annexed portions of Limestone County, which is emerging as the region’s growth corridor. “We are grateful for a strong partnership with Chairman Mark Yarbrough and the Limestone County Commission for making this project possible.”
Polaris’ announcement comes almost exactly a year after Remington Outdoor Co., the nation’s oldest firearms manufacturer, unveiled plans to build a $110 million factory in Huntsvillethat will eventually employ more than 2,000 people. Huntsville has scored other notable economic successes lately, including a Boeing technology research center with 350 jobs announced in 2013.
Huntsville, home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal, also boasts many advanced manufacturing companies, including Toyota, which has produced more than 3 million engines at its plant in the city.
‘PROJECT AXLE’ TEAMWORK
A deep roster of Alabama agencies teamed with the Commerce Department and the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County on the Polaris recruitment, known as “Project Axle.” AIDT, a division of the Commerce Department that serves as the state’s job-training agency, will assist the company is assembling and preparing its workforce.
The Tennessee Valley Authority assisted in the project, as did the cities of Athens and Decatur, along with several government agencies in Morgan and Limestone counties.
The recruitment climaxed last November, when officials from Alabama and two other Southeastern states designated as finalists made final pitches at the company’s headquarters in Minnesota, said Hollie Pegg, the Commerce Department’s assistant director of business development. Shortly afterwards, the Alabama team received word that it had prevailed.
“We are grateful to city of Huntsville and the state of Alabama for their support as we invest in our shared future,” Polaris’ Pucel said.
Polaris, which recorded 2013 sales of $3.8 billion, is a leading producer of off-road vehicles, including all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, and side-by-side vehicles. The company owns the Victory and Indian motorcycle brands, and it is actively advancing the development of electric/hybrid powered vehicles.