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ON THE ROAD: Officials celebrate grand opening of Polaris facility

Date: 11/4/2016 10:58:03 AM Category: Manufacturer News
Gov. Robert Bentley on Tuesday said he hoped he would get to handle some big scissors at the grand opening of Polaris' facility in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County. “Every time I can hold some big scissors means we have some good news,” he said to the dozens of state and local officials and Polaris employees in attendance.  
 
The grand opening of what Medina, Minnesota-based Polaris calls its Huntsville Center of Manufacturing Excellence did not signify the start of production for the company. Production on the company's Ranger line began June 1, while production on the Slingshot began in early July. About 450 employees are now working at the 725,000-square-foot facility at 7049 Greenbrier Parkway N.W., but a total of 1,700 will eventually be employed there. 
 
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said the payroll for those employees will have a $20 million economic impact on the Huntsville area. Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said the economic impact of the company will be felt for the next 20 years and beyond. He estimated that when Polaris reaches full employment in Huntsville, the payroll will hit the $2 billion mark, which Canfield said will have a $1.3 billion economic impact on the area over the next 20 years. “That's why Polaris was a company that was a big target for the state of Alabama,” Canfield said. “Gov. Bentley gave us the charge to do everything we could, within reason, to make it happen.” 
 
The “everything” Canfield spoke of likely includes an impressive array of local and state incentives valued at about $80 million. Polaris invested $150 million in the facility. “The investments you've made in us, and let me tell you they were significant,” said Polaris Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott Wine. “We weren't bashful about asking, and the answer was rarely 'no.' It was, 'Let us find a way.'” Wine said he explained to members of the company's board of directors that the Huntsville facility represented the “most transformational investment the company has ever made.” He said while Polaris may be the world leader in power sports, there is a drive to make both product and facility the best in the world. “The Ranger utility vehicle that will largely, over time, be built right here is the hardest-working, smoothest-riding vehicle in the industry,” Wine said. “What Huntsville gives us is an opportunity to deliver better quality. (The Huntsville facility) will be twice as fast as the average plant today. This facility will continue to grow and thrive.” 
 
Part of that growth will include the Polaris Visitor Experience Center, set to open in early 2017. The center will offer visitors an interactive tour that will guide them through the manufacturing and assembly process of Polaris products. Wine also said the company is continuing to work closely with local and state stakeholders. He explained the company has been working with the state to create an autocycle license so Slingshot drivers do not have to obtain a motorcycle license. Those who spoke also praised the workforce, which Polaris officials cited as a reason why Huntsville was an attractive area. Battle said he anticipates the company building a legacy in Huntsville and providing jobs for the next 50 to 100 years. “It's a special day for all of North Alabama and the state of Alabama,” he said.
Source: www.enewscourier.com
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