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Business leaders seek to save Erik Buell's motorcycle plant, after Harley-Davidson announces shut down

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Walworth County business leaders are trying to save Erik Buell's motorcycle plant, after Harley-Davidson said it would drop the Buell line of sport bikes. Buell's been making them in East Troy since the 1980s, and Harley bought his business in '98 and kept it going.


But after being hard hit by the recession, Harley said last week it would drop the Buell line and close the East Troy factory in December, putting 180 people out of work.

Erik Buell has not said if he would consider a new business there on his own.

But Fred Burkhardt of the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance said his group has had preliminary contacts with investors in Chicago and Minneapolis.

And if Buell is interested, Burkhardt said his group would keep working toward a new venture and that includes talking to Harley-Davidson.

Harley's Bob Klein says his firm wants to discontinue the Buell line rather than sell it, because it's so deeply engrained in Harley's business.