Riders Rally to Woo Harley-Davidson

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An estimated 100 Tennessee Harley-Davidson riders rallied in support of moving the shuttering York, Pa., operations to Murfreesboro, 35 miles southeast of Nashville.

Local newspaper The Daily News Journal issued the call in an effort to show H-D management the community wants a plant there.

"We wanted to send Harley officials a strong message that we think Murfreesboro is a great place to live and a great place for them to build," Andrew Oppmann, president and publisher of The DNJ and dnj.com, told the Post Crescent newspaper. "We're excited hog riders came out in such force and showed such great support."

It’s going to take more than riders, though, with at least two other communities trying to lure the Motor Co. with development incentives and tax breaks.

Harley executives have also toured sites in Shelbyville, Ind., and Shelbyville, Ky., according to the newspaper, and local officials in York have put together $15 million in capital improvements in an effort to keep the plant there. H-D brass are expected to decide later this year where to relocate the 2,500-worker York motorcycle plant.

Tom Bumpus, who owns Bumpus Harley-Davidson in Murfreesboro, predicted a factory would draw 100,000 tourists a year to see the operation, just as 300,000 people travel to Lynchburg to visit the Jack Daniel's Distillery.

Bumpus employs 200 people at five dealerships, including stores in Memphis, Jackson, Collierville and Lynchburg, the newspaper reported. The Murfreesboro shop has 53 employees.

Bikers on hand Sept. 12 posed in formation with their bikes for a group shot in front of the dealership. Many also participated in a video posted on The DNJ's Web site, dnj.com, which will be sent to the company.

-- Submitted by Holly Wagner