A major Northwest Wisconsin employer is moving while others work to replace the jobs. Polaris Industries announced Thursday afternoon that their parts plant will be leaving Osceola in 18 to 24 months for Mexico, taking as many of 514 jobs with it. State Representative Ann Hraychuck (D-Balsam Lake) said her district and beyond will be severely affected as there will be a “ripple” effect as employees come from surrounding areas including Minnesota.
Hraychuck was told by Al Hogan, GM of the snowmobile and motorcycle maker, that the company is negotiating to sell some of its equipment and processes to suppliers which could keep producing components in Osceola. She along with the Governor and Commerce Secretary want Polaris to reveal which companies are interesting in setting up shop, so they can provide incentives for the firms to do so.
In a statement, Governor Doyle said, “We will pursue new possibilities for the facility and do everything possible to keep jobs in Osceola.”
State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) called it “an extremely sad day.” She has also spoken with Polaris’ management and offered her help.
Meanwhile another lawmaker had choice words for the company. Congressman Dave Obey (D-Wausau) called Polaris “unpatriotic” for deciding to move south of the border. “They owe better than that to every American who has ever bought their products and they owe better than that to the US taxpayers, since millions of taxpayer dollars have been used by the government to purchase their products over the years,” said the senior Wisconsin US House member.
Osceola workers are being offered a chance to apply for jobs at the Polaris factories in Roseau, Minnesota and Spirit Lake, Iowa.
Polaris had a 20-percent drop in its sales last year, as the recession forced many people to cut out big-ticket items. But the firm began to recover in the first part of this year, as revenues grew 16-percent from the same time in 2009.