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No more vroom for Harley-Davidson in Franklin?

Company confirms layoffs, but not closing of local center

Sept. 22, 2009

Franklin — Harley-Davidson Inc. will lay off most of its employees at its Franklin distribution center on Friday, though officials said the facility will remain open past then.

According to a letter addressed to Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor earlier this month, 126 employees will be laid off at the distribution center, 10000 S. Franklin Drive.

Harley-Davidson announced earlier this year it would cut 1,100 jobs, with more than half in the Milwaukee area, and shut down the Franklin distribution center and Capitol Drive plant in Wauwatosa by the end of the year.

The distribution center employs about 150 people, but it was unclear who would remain at the facility. Harley officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The letter does not mention the closing of the facility, and City Attorney Jesse A. Wesolowski told the Community Development Authority last week that the distribution center will remain open past Friday.

Harley is actively marketing the property and Franklin officials have met with the company's real estate brokerage, Wesolowski said.

Taylor said he has received no official word that the distribution center will close, and wants to meet with Harley representatives to discuss ways to keep the company in Franklin.

"I'm more than willing to sit down at any time with any of their representatives to find a way to keep them in the city," Taylor said.

He said he asked the city's Economic Development Commission for recommendations on possible incentives, similar to what other cities have done to retain businesses and battle the economic recession.

"We'll do what we can to retain Harley-Davidson, but I'm going to need someone from Harley to get back to us on what it is we can do," Taylor said.

Harley FYI

According to the Harley-Davidson Web site:

• The Franklin distribution center houses more than 22,000 parts, 36,000 bin locations and more than one mile of conveyor systems.

• Ground was broken for the facility in April 1996 and the move from Juneau Avenue was completed in April 1997.

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