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Published June 15, 2011, 07:59 AM

Polaris Not Saying Why Fargo GEM Plant Closing

Polaris Industries offered little insight Wednesday behind its decision to close the Global Electric Motorcar plant based here.

By: Kristin M. Daum, Forum Communications

FARGO – Polaris Industries offered little insight Wednesday behind its decision to close the Global Electric Motorcar plant based here.

Polaris revealed Tuesday it plans to close the Fargo facility by the end of this year as part of its purchase of GEM.

Polaris bought GEM from Chrysler in April, and the deal should be official by the end of June.

GEM builds electric-powered low-speed vehicles. The company has been based in Fargo for the past 14 years.

In a statement Wednesday, Polaris spokeswoman Marlys Knutson confirmed the company plans to transfer GEM manufacturing from Fargo to its facility in Spirit Lake, Iowa – a rural town of some 4,800 residents.

Other GEM operations will also leave Fargo and relocate to Polaris offices elsewhere in Minnesota. Polaris is based in Medina near Minneapolis and also has a plant in Roseau.

Knutson said all 76 GEM employees in Fargo have been offered work for at least 60 days after the North Dakota plant closes. Of those, an undisclosed number were offered long-term employment.

Polaris’ statement does not explain why company officials decided to close the Fargo facility or what advantage may come from transferring production to the more remote location in Iowa.

Knutson said the company would not answer questions or comment beyond the written statement.

GEM President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Kasper deferred to Chrysler spokesman Mike Palese for comment.

But both Palese and GEM deferred to Polaris for questions related to the Fargo facility or its employees.

Daum is a reporter at the Forum in Fargo

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