Posted by Heidi Schwartz
Polaris Industries Inc. announced it plans to build a manufacturing facility in Alabama that focuses on the production of off-road vehicles. The move will create 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.
Alabama officials said the project represents an investment of at least $127 million.“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.
“The Alabama workforce, our business climate and our quality of life continue to make Alabama extremely attractive to companies,” Alabama Gov. Bentley said.
“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.
Medina, MN-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.”
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. 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 in assembling and preparing its workforce.