The announcement of Buell’s shut-down by Harley-Davidson is still spreading ripples through the motorcycle world. But, closer to Buell’s home, city and county officials are looking into trying to save the Buell manufacturing facility–and the local jobs it supported–in Walworth County.
If Erik Buell is interested and able to participate in a new venture, the Walworth County group will explore further steps, including trying to talk with Harley and seeking potential investors, Burkhardt said.
“We’ve had very preliminary contact from an investment group out of the Chicago area and also out of the Minneapolis area,” he said.
They only face two hurdles. First, no one at the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance has spoken to Erik Buell, so they have no idea if he’s even interested or available in working out such a deal. Second, harley-Davidson doesn’t seem interested in having these sorts of discussion at all. They just want to kill Buell.
Bob Klein, Harley’s director of corporate communications, reiterated that Harley is “discontinuing the Buell product line rather than selling the business because of how deeply integrated Buell is into our business systems and distribution network.”
That sounds…plausible. But I don’t think it’s the whole truth. Indeed, it’s not even the same story that HD was spinning a few days ago. Then, the decision to close Buell down was based on the very positive tax implications a shut-down would have, vice trying to sell the division.
And, while I certainly don’t want to assign impure motives to anyone at HD, there is a flavor of schadenfreude about the way the MoCo is handling this. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I can’t escape the sense that there’s some secret glee in Milwaukee over getting rid of Buell.
But, whether its the tax code, or sheer viciousness, the Walworth County effort doesn’t look like one that’s destined for success at the moment.