Monday, January 25, 2016

TOP STORY >> Gun firm coming to Jacksonville

Jacksonville will get a $5.7 million ammunition manufacturing plant, and Lonoke County will see a $12 million Remington Arms expansion. The deals will bring at least 75 new jobs to Jacksonville and another 80 to Lonoke.

Ron Cohen, CEO of SIG Sauer, said he believes the 75 new jobs will be only the beginning.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson made the announcements Thursday afternoon from the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Show (SHOT) in Las Vegas.

Hutchinson called Arkansas a premier location for the firearms industry and said Remington and SIG Sauer would “benefit from the state’s residents who are strong believers in the Second Amendment.”

SIG Sauer plans to turn the old Meador’s Lighting facility on Swift Drive near the air base into their ammunition plant.

The governor, in a press release, added, “The fact that a world-class company like SIG Sauer is choosing to do business in the state adds to our momentum in manufacturing, and we appreciate this significant commitment they are making to locate in Arkansas.”

In making the announcement, Hutchinson said Jacksonville, “with the air base, military retirees and  an incredible workforce,” is the perfect place for the ammunition company.
Mayor Gary Fletcher said this should begin a positive “ripple effect” for the city. One of the ripples started Thursday night as the city council approved a resolution holding 15 acres of city land adjacent the SIG plant for the firearms company to purchase at a later date for expansion.

Gov. Hutchinson tweeted Thursday evening from Las Vegas, “When I took office, SIG Sauer was one of the first companies I invited to do business in Arkansas. I’m delighted they chose to expand in our state.”

Mayor Fletcher added that the governor was the one to bring SIG into Arkansas, but it was local businessman Patrick Franklin, owner of Precision Brass and Bullets, who got SIG to focus on Jacksonville.

“There are a lot of people to give accolades to here from the governor to the chamber to the state economic development commission, but it was Franklin and his connections with SIG that got it start for us,” the mayor explained Friday morning.

SIG Sauer is one of the most renowned firearms manufacturers in the world. It makes pistols and rifles as well as silencers, optics, ammunitions, air guns and accessories. The company began in 1853 as a wagon factory named Swiss Industrial Company (Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft).

According to the company, almost one-third of law-enforcement professionals in the U.S. use SIG Sauer firearms. Military and government clients include the U.S. Navy SEALS, the Federal Air Marshals, the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service and the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and the city of Jacksonville have worked very hard on this project, and we are very excited that SIG Sauer has decided to locate this ammunition manufacturing facility in Jacksonville,” said Amy Mattison of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

The mayor said, “We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship for years to come.”

The governor announced the Remington expansion first Thursday afternoon with the company’s chief executive officer, Jim  Marcotuli. The $12 million expansion will mean 80 more jobs at Lonoke’s Remington plant, which already employees about 1,200, according to Hutchinson.

After the announcement, the governor, tweeted, “Delighted to announce Remington Outdoor Company’s decision to expand in Arkansas, furthering our reputation as a hub for firearms and ammo manufacturing!”

The governor called Arkansas a firearm-friendly state and applauded the commitment of Remington, which is celebrating its 200th year of business.

Forbes has ranked Arkansas as the third most gun-friendly state. For every 1,000 residents, there are 42 registered firearms in the state.