At a ceremony marking the grand opening of Polaris Industries’ new Alabama manufacturing facility on Tuesday, CEO Scott Wine called the investment in the new Huntsville production center “transformational” for the company.
Minnesota-based Polaris announced plans for the sprawling Alabama plant early last year and launched Alabama production of its Ranger off-road vehicles and Slingshot three-wheeled roadsters in late spring and summer.
Tuesday’s ceremony served as a symbolic coming-out party for the Huntsville factory, built with an investment topping $140 million as a new greenfield plant. Employment at the Alabama factory, which has around 500 workers, is expected to reach 1,700 and possibly go higher.
“We are committed to making Polaris Huntsville the premier manufacturing facility for power sports, anywhere,” Wine said at the grand opening.
He said the Alabama factory will accelerate production times and add efficiencies for the company.
Gov. Robert Bentley called Polaris a “perfect addition” to Alabama’s manufacturing sector, which employs almost 13 percent of the workforce in the state and accounts for 18 percent of the state’s economic output.
“We are proud of the strides we are making in advanced manufacturing,” he said.
Bentley said AIDT, a division of the Alabama Department of Commerce that serves as the state’s primary workforce development program, plays an important role in preparing skilled workers for Polaris and other companies.
“The Alabama team will continue to work with Polaris and other companies to ensure their success in our state,” he said.
Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the Polaris plant will have a substantial and long-lasting impact on the state’s economy as the company ramps up production. Estimates have pegged that impact at $1.3 billion over 20 years.
“It’s huge,” Canfield said.
With Polaris poised to increase employment at the Limestone County factory, applications have poured in for the positions. So far, more than 15,000 people have applied for Polaris jobs, according to the Governor’s Office.
Polaris selected Alabama out of two dozen states vying for the project.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.