Remington rumors persist post-SAFE Act

Ilion, N.Y. — Word that Remington Arms is eyeing potential sites in the Nashville, Tenn., area for a corporate relocation or expansion has triggered new concern the gunmaker could depart New York.

While the company is headquartered in Madison, N.C., its largest manufacturing plant is in Ilion (Herkimer County), where the company was founded in 1816 by Eliphalet Remington. About 1,300 employees work at the central New York facility in a four-story building that dominates the town’s landscape.

The Nashville Tennessean reported last month that Remington officials visited the area and looked at sites near the Nashville airport and in nearby Lebanon and Clarksville. A move would bring with it hundreds of manufacturing jobs, the newspaper reported.

While the report may be unsettling for local officials, state Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, who serves the district in which Remington’s Ilion plant is located, downplayed the report.

Tenney told the Utica Observer-Dispatch she contacted Remington officials, who assured her “this happens all the time and they’re committed to Ilion.”

State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, told the newspaper the company was just exercising its obligation to “explore all options.”

“It’s no secret that Remington has been recruited by other states, including these sites in Tennessee,” Seward said.

But company officials have thus far been quiet on the reports. And previous statements stopped short of putting concerns of a potential move out of New York to rest.

“While we are unhappy with the misguided acts of our elected politicians, Remington will not run or abandon its loyal and hard-working 1,300 employees without considerable thought and deliberation,” a company statement on its Facebook site read earlier this year amid similar reports.

Several states – among them Texas, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arizona and Michigan – made overtures to Remington following the passage of the New York SAFE Act gun legislation in January.

The SAFE (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement) Act came on the heels of the Connecticut school shootings and imposed the nation’s toughest gun laws.

The legislation made illegal Remington’s popular Bushmaster .223 semiautomatic rifle, imposed strict definitions of so-called “assault weapons,” banned magazines containing more than seven rounds and required background checks on ammunition purchases. It has been widely criticized by sportsmen and gun owners, as well as Remington officials, who labeled the SAFE Act “unconstitutional and passed in a questionable fashion.”

The SAFE Act’s passage triggered overtures to Remington from states touting themselves as gun-friendly. And it has led to continued speculation that a move out of New York by the storied gunmaker isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Too, Remington already has facilities in the South. Its headquarters are located in Madison, N.C. A plant in Lonoke, Ark., is in the middle of a $32 million expansion project expected to be completed next year. A Mayfield, Ky., facility is a two-hour drive from Nashville – as is Remington’s technical and research center in Elizabethtown, Ky.

In addition, Remington has a distribution facility managed by a third-party company in Memphis, Tenn.

Middle Tennessee is already the location of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, which employs about 100 at its Murfreesboro headquarters.

And the region is definitely friendly to the shooting sports, as evidenced by the National Rifle Association’s decision to book Nashville’s Music City Center for its 2015 annual convention.

Economic development officials in Clarksville-Montgomery County declined comment on Remington’s search, citing its policy in refraining from discussing any business recruitment efforts.

New York has already seen one gunmaker depart the Empire State this year. Kahr Firearms announced its plans to relocate its corporate headquarters and research and development department from Pearl River, N.Y., to Pike County, Pa., where it purchased a 620-acre site.

Kahr officials also announced plans to build a new factory on the site, creating up to 100 jobs.

Prior to the passage of the SAFE Act, Kahr was planning to finalize an agreement to expand its operations in Orange County, N.Y.

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