Polaris to bring at least 1,700 jobs to Tennessee Valley

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Polaris Industries Inc. will build an ATV manufacturing facility in Limestone County near the Greenbrier exit, bringing at least 1,700 jobs in the near future and up to as many as 2,000 over time.

Read our BLOG for minute-by-minute details of the news conference held Friday, January 9.

On Friday, Polaris Industries Inc. announced plans to build a new, $142-million production facility in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County.  The advanced manufacturing facility will provide additional capacity and flexibility as the company continues to experience rapid growth. Located southwest of downtown Huntsville, the 600,000 square-foot facility will focus on off-road vehicle production.

Polaris selected the Huntsville area due to its skilled workforce, history of technology and innovation, existing utility infrastructure, and strong local and state resources supporting economic development.  Polaris officials said the 453-acre Huntsville site offers Polaris close proximity to its key customer base in the Southeast U.S. and strong logistics network.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said, "It’s also a strong endorsement for Huntsville to have the state’s two largest economic development announcements (along with Remington) in the past year.  These historic wins validate our competitiveness and promising future as a leading economic driver and destination of choice for successful business."

Battle continued, "The magnitude of the Polaris facility will draw even more suppliers to our area, further diversifying our strong economic job base. It can also bring opportunities for our existing businesses to earn work."

“This investment in Limestone County will benefit our citizens in Athens by providing job opportunities within close proximity to our city,” said Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks. “In addition, Athens has appeal for those who want to live in a smaller city and work in the Huntsville area.

Limestone County Economic Development Association President Tom Hill said the regional effort on projects makes this area competitive when industries are comparing multiple sites.

The new plant in Alabama will become part of Polaris' North American plant network and officials say it will reduce complexity within the existing plant network and enable logistics optimization. The company says the Huntsville facility will have multiple assembly lines providing flexibility to quickly replenish demand and support continued product innovations. Equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, the plant will support several core processes including, vehicle assembly, chassis and body painting, welding, fabrication and injection molding. At full capacity, the site will employ at least 1,700 people.

Polaris will break ground on the Huntsville facility in the first quarter of 2015 with completion slated for early in the second quarter of 2016. Production will begin shortly thereafter.

Click here to view a map of the conceptual site plan.

“I am honored to welcome Polaris Industries to Alabama,” said Governor Robert Bentley. “The Alabama workforce, our business climate and our quality of life continue to make Alabama extremely attractive to companies. 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."

During today’s announcement at the Jackson Center in Cummings Research Park, Mayor Battle gave Polaris President and Chief Operating Officer Bennett Morgan a miniature lunar rover sporting the Polaris logo.   “It was more than 40 years ago when Huntsville talent helped design the first lunar rover for the Apollo astronauts to explore the moon,” said Battle. “Today, going forward, our skilled workforce will now build these all-terrain vehicles for Polaris, which has made it a whole lot of fun to explore our earth.

“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, Executive Vice President of Operations, Engineering, and Lean, Polaris Industries Inc. “We are grateful to the city of Huntsville and the state of Alabama for their support as we invest in our shared future.”

Polaris is a leader in the powersports industry with annual 2013 sales of $3.8 billion. The company is headquartered in Medina, Minnesota, just outside of Minneapolis. It has several manufacturing and distribution facilities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota. It also has facilities in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Spain, Germany and other countries.

Polaris Industries makes a variety of all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, motorcycles and related parts, as well as other products.