Tuesday, November 15, 2016

EDITORIAL >> New street named for firearms plant

In a salute to a large firearms company bringing an ammunition plant to the city, the Jacksonville City Council will vote to rename Commerce Drive to Sig Sauer Drive.

There will be a public hearing at city hall at 7 p.m. Thursday on the renaming decision just before the council votes on the ordinance.

Sig Sauer is remodeling a 50,000-square foot building on 10 acres of land along Swift and Commerce Drives into an ammunition plant that it is moving from Kentucky and will employ about 75 workers to start.

Sig Sauer officials have said that the company plans to invest several million dollars in its Arkansas operation.

Mayor Gary Fletcher likes to call the ammunition plant, Phase One, and hopes because of the strong relationship developing between the company and the city that Sig Sauer will consider expanding soon after it opens.

“They’ll have plenty of room,” said City Engineer Jay Whisker.

Back in April, Dan Powers, the president of the company’s ammunition division, said, “We had been searching for a permanent relocation site for our ammunition division for several years and now, coupled with an excellent physical location and exceptional economic incentives provided by the state of Arkansas, we have found the ideal site.”

“The new location in Jacksonville gives us the room we need to expand as we continue to grow and is also beneficial from a shipping and logistical standpoint,” Powers added.

The mayor said the plant should open sometime in the first quarter of 2017.

The Firearms and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report 2016, produced by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, counted 2,651 jobs in Arkansas directly attributed to the firearms industry in 2015, with total wages of $115 million.

The new Jacksonville plant near Marshall Road is ripe for further development. Local officials continue to press for new industries, which will find a newly improved Hwy. 67/167, with new overpasses and additional lanes, that will pave the way to large markets.

The road improvements, costing nearly $200 million, will not be completed for several years, but they represent a great investment for the people and businesses of this region.