Faltering gunmaker Remington Firearms will cut its 205-year-old ties to New York and move the company’s upstate headquarters to Georgia – the latest iconic weapons manufacturer to flee the restrictive Northeast for more gun-friendly laws in the South.
The company announced Monday that it would invest $100 million in a new facility in LaGrange, Georgia, southwest of Atlanta, and hire 856 people over five years.
Remington, which was founded in 1816 in Ilion, was bought out of bankruptcy for the second time in June 2020 after being weighed down by lawsuits and retail sales restrictions following the Sandy Hook massacre and other school shootings.
The move to Georgia comes slightly more than a month after famed gunmaker Smith & Wesson announced it will leave its historic 165-year-old headquarters in Massachusetts for a new home base in gun-friendly Tennessee, saying proposed legislation in the deep Blue state to ban manufacturing of assault weapons would devastate its bottom line.
Investors doing business as the Roundhill Group purchased the Remington-branded gun-making business, including operations in Ilion, New York, and Lenoir City, Tennessee, for $13 million.
Remington, the country’s oldest gun maker, began making flintlock rifles in 1816. It swelled into a firearms conglomerate, but faced slumping sales, complaints about quality, and legal pressure over the Sandy Hook school massacre.
The current company no longer makes the Bushmaster AR-15 rifles used to kill 20 first-graders and six educators in the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in 2012.
Gunmakers have been leaving their traditional home bases in the northeast as laws become more hostile toward guns and moving to more politically welcoming settings in the South and West.
‘We are very excited to come to Georgia, a state that not only welcomes business but enthusiastically supports and welcomes companies in the firearms industry,’ Remington CEO Ken D´Arcy said in a statement.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp famously pointed a shotgun at another person in a campaign commercial when the Republican was seeking his current office in 2018.
‘Georgia´s firearms industry is responsible for thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of investment in our communities,’ Kemp said in a statement.
‘I am a proud owner of some of Remington´s first-class product, and now, I am excited to welcome them to their new home in the Peach State.’
Scott Malone, the economic development director for the city of LaGrange, said Remington has already secured at least one building in the city, and will operate from a combination of new and renovated facilities. He said local governments would offer property tax abatements, plus utility and infrastructure improvements.
Remington could claim various state tax breaks, including an income tax credit allowing it to annually deduct $3,000 per job from state income taxes, up to $12.8 million over five years, as long as workers make at least $28,000 a year. The state will also pay to train workers, but declined to detail the entire incentive package, saying it was not complete yet.
Phil Smith, a spokesperson for the United Mine Workers of America, which represents some workers at a factory in Ilion, said the union had no information about whether workers in New York would be affected.
The new owners recently restarted operations there, calling back more than 200 workers who had been laid off. The local government in New York offered 10 years of tax breaks in exchange for the restart and upgrades.
In addition to the shuttering its Massachusetts headquarters, and moving 550 jobs out of Springfield, it will also close facilities in Connecticut and Missouri as part of a consolidation plan.
Specifically, the company’s plastic injection molding, pistol and long gun assembly and distribution will be moved to the new Tennessee facility, while its metal forging, machining, finishing and revolver assembly capacity will remain in Massachusetts.
The first Remington rifle was made in 1816 by Eliphalet Remington Jr., who handcrafted the barrel at his father’s forge, the company said on its website.
He moved his burgeoning barrel-making business from the forge site to its current Ilion location in 1828,
The company began manufacturing complete guns in 1845 after Remington signed his first firearms contract to manufacture 5,000 rifles for the U.S. Army’s ordnance department.
Remington’s armory began supplying a variety of guns – including pistols, carbines, rifles and muskets – for the army and navy at the start of the civil war in 1861.
By the time the civil war ended in 1865, Remington’s army business was producing firearms for hunters, settlers, and sportsman.
The country’s oldest gun maker’s fortunes have turned in more recent years.
Despite gun sales reaching historic highs, it sought bankruptcy for the second time in June 2020 after being weighed down by lawsuits and retail sales restrictions following the Sandy Hook massacre and other school shootings.
Sandy Hook families claimed Remington violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act by marketing its Bushmaster XM15-E2S, an AR-15 style weapon, to civilians.
The weapon was used to kill 20 children and six adult staff at the school It was legally purchased by the shooter’s mother, an investigation found.
Meanwhile, Smith & Weston announced September 30 that it will build a new $120million facility in Maryville by 2023 and eventually shutter the Springfield location that forged famed firearms like the .357 magnum – used by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies.