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Boat manufacturer opens Manatee County facility, plans to add over 200 jobs

The facility's grand opening was held Tuesday.

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  • | 1:15 p.m. March 28, 2023
The Chris-Craft leadership team celebrated the grand opening of the company's new facility.
The Chris-Craft leadership team celebrated the grand opening of the company's new facility.
Courtesy photo
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A new 70,000-square-foot boat manufacturing facility expected to bring more than 200 jobs to the Sarasota-Bradenton area held its grand opening Tuesday, March 28. 

Chris-Craft, a southern Manatee County-based boatbuilder, hosted the event at its campus at 8161 15th Street E. According to a media release, attendees expected at the event included Winnebago Industries and Chris-Craft employees, elected officials and community members. Chris-Craft is a wholly owned subsidiary of Winnebago Industries, an outdoor lifestyle product manufacturer.

Steve Heese says a few words during the grand opening ceremony Tuesday.
Courtesy photo

“I’m thrilled to see boats rolling off the new line,” Chris-Craft President Steve Heese says in a release. “The new building marks an important milestone in the growth of our company and the enhanced production capacity this new building provides will help our dealer network meet demand for our products and ultimately, ensure our customers enjoy incredible experiences on the water.”

The jobs provided at the facility will be filled over the next couple of years, a company spokesperson says. Currently, Chris-Craft has over 20 open positions on its website. 

The event celebrated the facility’s first complete boat, a Launch GT 25, being rolled off the production line, the release states. The new facility has the capacity to produce six boat models from 24 feet to 28 feet in length, start to finish.

In November 2021, site preparation work began on the company’s headquarters. A groundbreaking was held Feb. 4, 2022, with construction wrapping up a year later. The new facility is expected to increase production capacity by 50 percent.

Chris-Craft’s existing facility in Sarasota spans over 20 acres and employs more than 300 workers, according to a statement. The company was originally based in Michigan before relocating its headquarters to Sarasota in 1988.


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