City support may ward off Mason City Harley-Davidson move

Publish Date: 
Apr 2, 2012

The fate of Harley-Davidson of Mason City, Iowa, may rest in the hands of the City Council, which is set to consider a development agreement for the dealership Tuesday that will keep it where it is.

Dealer principal Steve Minert has since 2003 resisted corporate pressure to move the dealership to lots with better highway visibility – move many dealers have made. The Motor Co. ratcheted up the pressure last year.

“Harley corporate was moving all their dealerships to high-traffic areas. They wanted us to move,” Minert told the Globe Gazette. With help from the city and economic development officials, the dealer worked out a deal to stay where it is.

“The support the city gave us was the straw that broke the camel’s back” for corporate, Minert says. “In terms of staying where we are, we were able to tell them we want it, our customers want it, the city wants it — and the city has skin in the game. I don’t think they’d ever seen anything quite like this.”

The terms of the agreement up for council approval Tuesday include:

  • The dealership will keep 20 full-time employees through the life of the agreement and will add at least six new employees by Nov. 1, 2013, with a minimum average starting wage of $10 an hour.

  • Renovations to the building will increase its assessed value by about $1 million upon completion. The project is to be finished no later than Oct. 1, 2013.

  • The city will provide a $100,000 forgivable loan, forgiven at a rate of $10,000 a year for 10 years, contingent on continued operation of the business at its present location; a 10-year, 100 percent tax rebate on the new valuation created by the expansion and renovation; relocation of the natural gas line in the alley to the west of the building, paid for by the city with a maximum cost of $25,000; and the city will vacate and convey an alley west of the store to the dealership.

Posted by Holly Wagner

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