Florida and Nevada maneuver to get Harley Davidson

By:  Beth Dolgner at Dealer News

Florida and Nevada are paying attention to Harley-Davidson’s hints that it may relocate from Milwaukee and are starting to put together packages to lure The Motor Co. to their state..

Jacksonville, Fla., is hoping to woo the manufacturer, while a gubernatorial candidate in Nevada hopes his “inside knowledge” of the move might help his candidacy.

Brian Sandoval, the Republican candidate for governor of Nevada, mentioned the speculative Harley-Davidson relocation during an impromptu debate earlier this month. Sandoval told the audience at the Nevada Subcontractors Association luncheon that he had received a letter from someone “with inside knowledge” of Harley-Davidson’s operations.

“Why can’t they come here to the state of Nevada?” Sandoval said to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “So I’m going to reach out today and call them and say, ‘Nevada wants you.'”

Back in Jacksonville, manufacturing and labor representatives are hoping to attract Harley to the Sunshine State to alleviate the 11 percent unemployment rate there. Indeed, the high unemployment rate in Florida is being used as an incentive, since it means plenty of ready labor.

Candace Moody is vice president of communications for Worksource, a job placement company based in Jacksonville. She told the Florida Times-Union, “One thing that puts us on the short list for industrial is the large amount of exiting military personnel (from the nearby Naval Air Station). The Navy exits a lot of people with machine skills, safety skills, calibrating skills — a lot of them could be cross-trained.”

Most existing labor in the Jacksonville area is not unionized, which could be in the area’s favor given Harley’s recent battles with the steelworkers in Wisconsin. But Florida has a tough permit approval process for businesses, which could repel The Motor Co.

Still, Floridians like Moody remain optimistic. “I’d say among Florida cities, we are the pick of the litter,” she says.


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