Archive for Saturday, August 22, 2009

Harley-Davidson seeks new plant site

August 22, 2009


— Harley-Davidson Inc. is considering sites in four states for a possible relocation of its main motorcycle plant in Pennsylvania, a company spokesman said Friday.

Company and union officials toured locations in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Shelbyville, Ind., Shelbyville, Ky., and Kansas City, Mo., over the last week as the company assesses a possible move, Bob Klein said. No other locations are being considered, he added.

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson announced in May it was exploring a relocation of its motorcycle assembly facility in York, Pa., which employs 2,300 people. Though the company’s preferred path is to stay in York, Klein said, the factory is inefficient and has too much capacity. A decision is expected later this year.

Pennsylvania officials are fighting to keep the plant in York. Earlier this month, Gov. Ed Rendell said the state was developing an economic package that includes job training and infrastructure, low-interest loans and $15 million for plant upgrades to induce Harley to stay.

The plant opened in 1973, but some of the buildings date back to World War II. In addition, the large number of job classifications in the union contract makes it difficult to shift workers into different duties, the company has said.

Klein said that if the company does decide to relocate the plant, the new facility would likely have a “smaller work force and a smaller footprint.”

The York facility is Harley’s largest motorcycle factory and makes its Touring and Softail models, as well as some custom models. Workers there approved a new contract in 2007 after a two-week strike.

A relocation to Kansas City could be a convenient move for Harley. The city already has a Harley plant near Kansas City International Airport, which opened in 1998 and makes the Sportster, V-Rod and Dyna motorcycles. It also has a vacant property next to the facility.


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