BLOG: Governor, local leaders discuss Polaris jobs announcement for Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – State and local leaders made a major announcement Friday about Polaris bringing at least 1,700 jobs to the Huntsville area.

Polaris Industries will build a 600,000 square foot facility in Limestone County near the Greenbrier exit , where it will manufacture outdoor motorized recreational vehicles.  Read more in our full story.

Read our minute-by-minute blog below as well.

Claire Aiello January 9, 201512:49 pm

Good afternoon – we are in place for the announcement at The Jackson Center and here at WHNT News 19.  I’ll be updating this live blog for you, and reporter Daniela Perallon will cover the announcement. 

Our live stream currently shows coverage of the developments in France today from CBSN, CBS News’ new 24 hour channel. We will switch to the announcement shortly after 1 p.m. when Gov. Bentley arrives.

Claire Aiello January 9, 201512:58 pm

Photo by Daniela Perallon, of crews getting in place for the announcement.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:02 pm

The announcement will begin in a few minutes. We understand the governor is delayed — we hope to see him shortly.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:08 pm

We are still waiting on Gov. Bentley’s arrival. He is due shortly.  The crowd invited to watch the announcement has been let in, and they’re filling the chairs.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:14 pm

The announcement: Polaris Industries will bring at least 1,700 jobs to Huntsville. More details:

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:16 pm

Polaris announced it 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. 
The 600,000 square-foot facility will focus on off-road vehicle production. We understand it will be built near Greenbrier Road, in the Huntsville portion of Limestone County.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:21 pm

Governor Bentley just arrived at the Jackson Center. Announcement to begin shortly.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:22 pm

Several people expected on podium, including Gov. Bentley, local mayors, county leaders and state legislators.

Maxie Gardner January 9, 20151:24 pm

Maxie Gardner January 9, 20151:26 pm

Maxie Gardner January 9, 20151:27 pm

The stage is full for the announcement

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:28 pm

Watch the announcement here:

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:29 pm

Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, says this initiative was called “Project Axle.” He thanks everyone involved in making this a reality.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:32 pm

Canfield on the company who is coming: “They’re in demand, and the demand is growing.”

Interesting note, none of those at the podium have named the company as of yet.

Maxie Gardner January 9, 20151:33 pm

Governor Bentley takes the stage

Maxie Gardner January 9, 20151:34 pm

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:35 pm

Gov. Bentley welcomes Polaris Industries to Huntsville, AL. He says the company will fit ‘Huntsville’s equation’ perfectly.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:36 pm

The company’s 600,000 square foot facility will focus on off-road vehicles. Gov. Bentley said this is a major accomplishment to help Alabama reach its goal of putting people back to work.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:36 pm

Governor: The people of Alabama love the outdoors, love outdoor sports, and Polaris will be right at home in our great state.

Maxie Gardner January 9, 20151:40 pm

Governor Bentley presents Ken Pucel, Polaris Executive VP, the Seal of Alabama

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:46 pm

Polaris just played a video for the audience about what kind of outdoor products the company makes.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:50 pm

Ken Pucel, Polaris Executive VP, says the new plant will have multiple assembly lines. They intend to start production next year and grow the workforce to more than 2,000 employees.  “We look forward to investing in our shared future in this great state,” he said.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:50 pm

“We look forward to a long and prosperous stay in Alabama, and we look forward to saying with you, ‘We are made in Alabama.'” – Ken Pucel, Polaris Executive VP.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:53 pm

The facility will be located on 453 acres west of Greenbrier Road in Limestone County. The project comprises a capital investment of up to $142 million. Construction is expected to begin next month with the campus fully operational by 2017.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:54 pm

Polaris said Huntsville was an ideal choice because of the city’s skilled workforce, history of technology and innovation, existing utility infrastructure, and local and state support. The site also brings Polaris closer to its key customer base in the Southeast and offers a strong logistics network for the new operation.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:54 pm

Mayor Tommy Battle welcomed Polaris, saying: “It’s a strong endorsement for Huntsville to have the state’s two largest economic development announcements 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.”

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:57 pm
This was funny just now: Mayor Battle presented Polaris Executive VP Ken Purcel with the first ‘Huntsville/Polaris Mars Rover.’
“We’re on a budget,” Mayor Battle joked.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20151:58 pm

This was funny just now: Mayor Battle presented Polaris Executive VP Ken Purcel with the first Huntsville/Polaris Mars Rover.
“We’re on a budget,” Mayor Battle joked.

Claire Aiello January 9, 20152:09 pm

The news conference is over. We appreciate you all tuning in to our live stream and here on our live blog! We’ll have more reports this evening (Friday) on WHNT News 19 at 5:00, 6:00, 6:30, 9:00 and 10:00 p.m.