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Remington looking at Nashville for expansion, relocation 
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Post Remington looking at Nashville for expansion, relocation
Gunmaker Remington looking at Nashville for expansion, relocation

Tougher New York gun laws prompting possible move, could bring hundreds of jobs to region

Aug. 19, 2013 4:12 PM |

One of the nation’s largest gun manufacturers, Remington Arms, has looked at sites around Nashville for a potential corporate relocation or expansion that would likely include hundreds of manufacturing jobs.

The Madison, N.C.-based company, which is part of the nation’s largest firearms company and has its largest plant in Ilion, N.Y, has scouted sites near Nashville’s airport, Lebanon and in Clarksville, Tenn.

Remington is a growing number of among gun manufacturers nationwide that have been courted by states pitching themselves as more gun-friendly. The wooing came after a handful of states, including New York, passed tougher gun control laws in the aftermath of last December’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators.

Remington’s roughly 1,200-employee plant in Ilion makes rifles such as the Bushmaster semiautomatic weapon, which is now banned under New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, the first law passed by any state post-Newtown.

In addition to the much stricter definition of assault weapons, which now includes semi-automatic pistols and rifles with detachable magazines and one military-style feature, the New York SAFE Act banned magazines that contain more than seven rounds, required instant background checks on all ammunition purchases at the time of the sale and required mental health professionals to report concerns about a gun-owning patient who posed a risk of harming both himself or others.

Quick passage of that law upset not only the gunmakers, but also residents of that state that own certain guns, said Erin Crowe, office coordinator for the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce in Utica, N.Y. “Ilion, New York is Remington — if it wasn’t for Remington, Ilion wouldn’t exist,” she said. “There’s not a lot of new industries coming to central New York, so if you take a huge company like that and they leave, our unemployment rate is going to skyrocket.”

People familiar with Remington’s exploration of sites said the company looked around the Nashville area as recently as within the past month.

The timeframe for the search is unclear; a call to a company spokeswoman wasn’t returned.

Earlier this year, lawmakers from several states that include Michigan, South Carolina, Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas also made pitches to woo Remington. In addition to the New York plant, Remington also has plants in Lonoke, Ark. (a five-hour drive from Nashville), and in Mayfield, Ky. (a two-hour drive from Nashville. It also has a technical and research center in Elizabethtown, Ky., which is also about two hours from Nashville. The company also has distribution operations in Memphis managed by a third-party company.

A plant between Nashville and Clarksville would put Remington closer to those operations in Kentucky.

With laws allowing people with permits to carry guns in state parks, in locked cars on most parking lots, and in bars and restaurants, depending on policy of the business establishment, Tennessee has developed a reputation as a gun-friendly state. In Middle Tennessee, firearms maker Barrett already has 100 employees at its headquarters and manufacturing plant in Murfreesboro. And the National Rifle Association booked Nashville’s new Music City Center convention hall to bring its 2015 annual convention with about 5,000 delegates here.

Reports about Remington’s search for sites come as owners of large tracts of land and economic development officials said they’re seeing more corporate relocation and other prospects in Middle Tennessee. Within the past two months, local real estate investor and developer Bert Mathews has encountered unidentified prospects at his 180-acre Buchanan Point site near Nashville International Airport off Interstate 40.

They include a 50-acre user, a 10-acre user and another users that had sought space for a 250,000-square-foot building. “Everybody’s looking at Nashville,” said Mathews, also a past chairman of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Local and regional economic development officials were mum when asked about Remington’s search. “It is the policy of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Economic Development Council to refrain from discussing business recruitment projects, whether they be rumored or real,” said Robin Burton, its spokeswoman.

If Remington chooses to relocate operations from New York, it would add to the list of companies doing or planning to do so in part to protest stricter gun laws.

Last month, Kahr Firearms Group said it was in talks to relocate its corporate headquarters and research and development department from Pearl River, N.Y., to Pike County, Pa., where it bought 620 acres. The firearms maker also revealed plans to open for a new factory — with up to 100 jobs — there within five years.

Before New York passed the tougher gun control law, Kahr had been close to finalizing an agreement for land in Orange County, N.Y., with room for growth.

Last week, Southport, Conn.-based Sturm, Ruger & Co. also said it would open a new plant that would employ more than 470 workers in Rockingham County, N.C. That community is also home to Remington’s parent Freedom Group Inc.

The package of gun control measures Connecticut passed earlier this year included an expanded assault weapons ban, additional background checks gun purchases and ammunition purchases, and a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines. ... 308190065/

Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:13 pm
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