EARLIER: Shelby 1 of 4 sites Harley is considering

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By Lisa King

Officials from Shelby County and the Harley-Davidson Motor Company confirmed Thursday that Shelby is one of four sites the company is considering for relocation of its main factory.


"We did meet with representatives from Harley this week," said Libby Adams, executive director of the Shelby County Industrial and Development Foundation.

Bob Klein, director of corporate communications for Harley-Davidson, said company representatives visited Shelbyville on Monday and that their overall experience was very positive.

"The team that was on the site visit appreciated the very good reception that they had during the visit and were appreciative of all the effort that had gone into that," he said.

Harley-Davidson also is considering Murfreesboro, Tenn., Kansas City and, ironically, Shelbyville, Ind., as the new home for a plant currently based just outside of York, Pa.

That two-building facility is Harley’s largest. It opened there in 1973 and was expanded by 350,000 square feet in 2003.

Klein said that relocation is being considered as a way to offset a drastic drop in sales and profits, which the company reported this spring had declined by 37 percent.

"We have been conducting an analysis which got under way this spring, and we know we need to make some significant changes in our operations so that they will stay more competitive in the long term," he said.

He added that the analysis is looking both at ways to keep the York plant competitive where it is or to relocate it. "So one path is how do we do that at York or move to an alternate site," he said.

Klein said the company considers its two buildings in York to be a single facility. He added that if the plant relocates, it is still uncertain how many employees would be displaced in York or how many would be needed at a new site.

"There are currently about twenty-three hundred employees in York, and the workforce size of either a restructured work operation or an alternative site is yet to be determined," he said.

Klein said he was not at liberty to say whether Shelby County was at the top or the bottom in regard to the company's preference so far.

"We have a number of criteria as we assess alternate sites, but because this is an ongoing process, we're not really providing any specifics," he said.

State and county officials entertained the officials from Harley-Davidson for a couple of days and have outlined an economic incentive package as part of the courtship, sources familiar with the discussions have told The Sentinel-News.

But Mandy Lambert, public relations coordinator for the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, said she could not comment on any details of the situation yet.

"I can confirm that they [Harley officials] did indeed do a site visit in Shelbyville, but any additional information about preliminary projects is not subject to discussion," she said.

Lambert did say that if Harley-Davidson decides to move its plant to Shelbyville, her office would be one of the first to know.

"After a company has gone through its initial site process and narrowed its projects down to a couple of options, they will usually seek an approval for tax incentive, and that comes through our Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority," she said. "So once a company has been preliminarily approved for a tax incentive, at that point, it would become public record."

Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903 and is headquartered in Milwaukee. It reported $5.6 billion in revenue in 2008 from sales of its motorcycles, equipment and apparel and licensing.