- Associated Press - Friday, January 9, 2015

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - Polaris Industries is planning a manufacturing plant that will bring as many as 2,000 jobs to north Alabama.

Gov. Robert Bentley and other leaders announced the factory Friday in Huntsville. The 600,000-square-foot plant will construct off-road vehicles and adds a new twist to Alabama’s growing vehicle industry, which mainly involves automobiles.

State Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said the project developed quickly and was code-named “Project Axle” to help keep it quiet.

“This is a wonderful way to start the new year,” Bentley said.

The plant is in the Limestone County section of west Huntsville that was annexed by the city.

Ken Purcel, executive Vice President of Polaris, said the company plans to begin production in 2016. Employment eventually will grow to about 2,000 jobs, he said. The company evaluated more than 100 sites in 14 states before selecting north Alabama, he said.

Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said Polaris would receive economic incentives totaling as much as $63 million from the state and local governments. That includes $31 million from the state over a decade to help fund construction and $20 million for job screening and training.

In return, Canfield said, Polaris agreed to create at least 1,700 jobs with an average wage of $18 an hour. Employment will likely increase to 2,000 by 2020, Canfield said.

The whole recruitment process took only three months, which is fast for such a large project.

“They wanted to move very quickly,” Canfield said. “Construction will start almost immediately.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said the plant would involve $142 million in capital investment. The project will help strengthen the area’s manufacturing and technology base, Battle said.

Last February, the governor and Huntsville officials announced that Remington Outdoor Co. would start a $110 million firearms plant in the city that would employ about 2,000 people within 10 years.

“Our star is shining, our future is bright,” the mayor said Friday.

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