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EARLIER: Community uncrosses its fingers as Harley deal falls through

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By Laura Clark

Though disappointed the company's announcements, Harley-Davidson enthusiasts in Shelby County said Thursday they hope the attention garnered these past several months will hold promise for the county down the line.

"Maybe it will have other businesses looking at us in the future," said Bill Hisle, avid cyclist and co-owner of Cattleman's Road House. "It's nice that they gave us a shot."

"It was a good experience for Shelby County," said Ray Broussard, finishing his lunch at McKinley's on Main Street. "I think it will make our community closer having gone through it."

The local government worked hard to show it was willing to work with industry, Broussard added, from emphasizing education to the tax structure.

"Everybody in Shelby County would have welcomed them with a red carpet," restaurant co-owner Teresa McKinley said, recalling the open arms that greeted her when she moved to Shelbyville eight years ago.

Look at the positives that drew the Pennsylvania plant to consider Shelby County, like a good labor force and quality of life, said Shelby Riner, owner of Derby Cycles.

"I think it's still a big plus for our community," he said.

Riner and Hisle said the current economic situation facing the country meant it probably made more sense for the company to stay put. And the union did not want to give up the jobs.

Many people said they felt Shelby County was a bit used by Harley-Davidson for leverage with the union. McKinley staffer Donna Loch said the deal falling through was predictable.

"I felt like Shelby County was dangled a bone they weren't going to get," Loch said. "I didn't see them coming."

What sense did it make for the little town of York to let the livelihood of 2,500 people disappear? Loch asked. Jobs are too hard to come by.

"I just felt sure the union wasn't going to let those jobs, those people leave," Riner said.

Being in the motorcycle business, Riner had insight into Harley's troubles. They're preparing to sell an Italian line, Augusta, and had already dropped a sport line, Buell, in favor of what sells well, cruiser cycles.

Not moving the plant now doesn't mean Harley-Davidson won't outsource part production or labor in the future, he warned. They're looking to cut back on costs in every direction.

"They'll probably retool and get more efficient even if they decide to stay there," Riner said."They've got to be price competitive."