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Facing a continued drop in motorcycle sales, Harley-Davidson announced it will be consolidating manufacturing operations from its Kansas City plant into its plant in Springettsbury Township.

The company is expected to add 450 full-time casual and contracted employees in York County during the next 18 months, according to spokeswoman Bernadette Lauer.

She added that the consolidation will include an expansion of the Springettsbury Township facility, though those details have not been finalized.

The company made the announcement in a news release describing its 2017 year-end results, as sales dropped 6.7 percent worldwide and 8.5 percent in the U.S. compared to 2016.

The consolidation, referred to in the news release as a "multiyear manufacturing optimization initiative," is expected to cost the company $170 million to $200 million in restructuring and consolidation costs and $75 million in capital investments during the next two years.

The Kansas City plant served as the hub for operations of the company's Softail, Sportster and Street motorcycles, all of which will now be manufactured in York County, according to Lauer.

About 800 employees currently work at the Kansas City plant, and some salaried employees will be offered positions in York, Lauer said.

After 2020, the company expects to save $65 million to $75 million yearly from the change.

"The decision to consolidate our final assembly plants was made after very careful consideration of our manufacturing footprint and the appropriate capacity given the current business environment," Matt Levatich, company president and CEO, said in the release. "Our Kansas City assembly operations will leave a legacy of safety, quality, collaboration and manufacturing leadership."

More: Harley-Davidson laying off another 118 in York County

The company has eliminated more than half its workforce in York County since threatening to move in 2009.

Separate layoffs of 118 in 2017 — which occurred when the company decided to stop producing Softail motorcycles in York — and about 100 in 2016 have left the Springettsbury Township plant with about 800 employees, down from nearly 2,000 in 2009.

Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance, called the announcement "a classic American comeback story" for York, noting that it's probably a different story in Kansas City.

Manufacturing is in York County residents' DNA, Schreiber said, and the alliance is excited to see what Harley's needs will be in terms of additional workforce.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.

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