Polaris to add 89 jobs to near-closed Osceola plant

  • Article by: SUSAN FEYDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 5, 2012 - 9:40 PM

A Polaris plant that lost most of its jobs will regain 89 of them thanks to new business.

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In 2010, Polaris Industries Inc. said it would close its production plant in Osceola, Wis. It later kept some workers on for motorcycle and snowmobile engine production and currently has about 140 people there.

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Polaris Industries Inc. said Thursday it will add 89 jobs to its plant in Osceola, Wis., to support added production of two businesses it acquired last year.

The hiring will be done over a three-year period, according to Marlys Knutson, a spokeswoman for the Medina-based manufacturer of recreational vehicles. Hiring within that timeframe will qualify the company for economic development tax credits from the state of Wisconsin, she said.

The Osceola plant at one time had a workforce of more than 500. Polaris initially announced plans to close the facility in 2010 as part of a plan to move some all-terrain vehicle production to a new facility in Mexico. It later kept some workers on in Osceola for motorcycle and snowmobile engine production and currently has about 140 people at the facility.

The additional workers will be hired to support ramped-up production of Indian motorcycles and low-speed electric vehicles made under the Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) name. Polaris acquired Indian and GEM last year and is currently producing those vehicles on a limited scale at its Spirit Lake, Iowa, plant.

Polaris plans to begin full-scale production of both Indian motorcycles and GEM next year in Spirit Lake and is in the process of expanding that facility. Polaris has added about 200 workers in the Spirit Lake area in the last 18 months, bringing the workforce there to about 540, Knutson said.

The additional employees in Osceola are needed for increased motorcycle engine production and for GEM research and development, Knutson said.

"This is great news," said Wisconsin state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, whose district includes Osceola. "When Polaris made the announcement that they were leaving we recognized very quickly that this not only affected Osceola, but the entire region."

Polaris sold part of the Osceola manufacturing operations last year to Kapco Inc., a metal fabrication and stamping company based in Grafton, Wis. At the time of the sale, Kapco said it already employed about 260 people and planned to hire about 50 people to work in Osceola.

The sale basically consisted of equipment at the Osceola plant. Kapco leases 60,000 square feet of the 200,000-square-foot building.

Susan Feyder • 612-673-1723

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