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More than Harley-Davidson

August 20, 2009
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Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson isn't the only company scouting for places to plunk new operations, a long-time economic development expert says.

Linda Williamson, who spearheaded development in Bloomington for a number of years and now has her own consulting firm, says companies have cut costs about as much as possible. Now theyâ??re easing into what looks to be a new investment cycle.

â??Itâ??s heating up again,â?? Williamson says. â??You will see nice expansion announcements in variety of locations.â??

The Business Journal of Milwaukee reported yesterday that company officials visited Shelby County to gather information for a possible location of a new assembly plant. The plant would replace a smattering of aging facilities in Pennsylvania.

Harley-Davidson also is considering sites in Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Shelbyville, Ky.; and a fourth, undisclosed location. Pennsylvania isnâ??t about to let the jobs go without a fight, pledging $15 million toward upgrading the York location.

Even if Harley-Davidson bypasses Indiana, the state can expect new projects and expansions in green energy and other industries affected by federal stimulus dollars, Williamson says.

Near Indianapolis, hot spots are near the airport west of the city and near the Medco warehouse and pharmacy operation in Boone County, she says.

As was the case at the end of prior recessions, companies are starting to lock in space in warehouses in anticipation of more traffic as the economy improves, she says.

â??Weâ??re seeing a whole lot of traffic through the good industrial buildings that are available,â?? Williamson says. â??Itâ??s not just tire-kickers.â??

What do you think? Is Williamsonâ??s perspective on target?
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