Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bring on the jobs

Because of Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ) program, 2,500 jobs have been created in Minnesota.

The Minnesota snowmobile company Arctic Cat Inc. announced plans today to build a new manufacturing facility in St. Cloud that will initially employ 50 people.

The 56,000-square foot plant, which will manufacture ATV engines, will be on 15 acres in an area of St. Cloud where city officials have been aggressive about pursuing industrial development. The company also will have a 40-acre vehicle test track nearby.
The expansion for the Thief River Falls company was fueled by incentives that include a 10-year, $500,000 interest free loan and local and state tax exemptions through 2015 through the state's Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ) program.

St. Cloud beat a competing proposal from Wisconsin. Arctic Cat's chief executive, Christopher Twomey, said today that the company would not have located its new facility in Minnesota without the incentives.

The company, which designs, engineers and manufactures snowmobiles and ATVs, could expand its facility to 200,000 square feet and employ up to 150 people, state and company officials said at a morning news conference.

The non-union jobs will pay salaries between $11.50 and $15 an hour, said Twomey, who praised the potential for a skilled St. Cloud workforce that will handle robotics and computer imaging to produce the engines.

The company introduced its own ATV engine last year, according to the annual report, selling 1,000 of the 650 H1 engines in the first three months of this year. Sales should rise to 10,000 for the 2006 fiscal year and 20,000 the following year.

The announcement comes amid a boom in the popular ATV market. ATV sales outpaced snowmobiles for the first time in the company's history in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2004. Snowmobile sales have been hurt in part, Twomey noted, by several consecutive years of poor snow conditions.

Pawlenty has pushed local companies to expand within Minnesota, using economic incentives in his JOBZ initiative to encourage local growth. The governor credits the initiative, begun last year, with bringing jobs to economically depressed communities throughout the state.

At a morning Capitol news conference, Pawlenty and other state officials said the JOBZ program has been successful, resulting in 173 completed agreements and 2,500 new jobs paying an average $11.32 an hour.

Critics of the plan have said it's not clear which expansions would have occurred anyway, with or without the governor's support.

Publicly traded Arctic Cat, based in Thief River Falls, Minn., had net sales of $689 million for the fiscal year that ended March 31. Sales for the previous year were $650 million.

(Source: Star Tribune online, August 11, 2005)


At 1:33 PM, Blogger Kevin from Minneapolis said...

Best part about this whole thing?

Non union jobs!!!

At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Preach it party opposite.


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