Conn. firearms manufacturer coming to Horry

US NEWS GUNSMITH 3 LAMyrtle Beach Online – by Steve Jones

CONWAY — Connecticut firearms manufacturer PTR Industries will announce Monday that it has decided to move its operation to Horry County.

The formal announcement is to be made at a 2:30 p.m. ribbon cutting ceremony at an industrial building in the Cool Springs Business Park.  

Mark Lazarus, Horry County Council chairman, said at the conclusion of Tuesday night’s Council meeting that the ceremony would be attended by Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, much of the county’s legislative delegation and County Council members.

“I’m excited to get it to this point,” Lazarus said after the Council approved a resolution setting out the terms for the company’s move to Horry County.

“I’m excited that after many years we will have a tenant in Cool Springs Park.

The company was identified as Project Phaser in the resolution, but Brad Lofton, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. said previously that Phaser was the name given to PTR Industries.

Josh Fiorini, PTR’s CEO, told The Sun News that the company will have 140 employees, many of whom will relocate in the move, which he said will happen over three years.

He said the average wage of the company is about $22 an hour, but that includes management personnel, all of whom are expected to move South. Some of the shop workers are highly-skilled and well-paid, although Fiorini said that those hired locally would likely be paid less as they learn the skills to make the firearms.

PTR Industries is one of two Connecticut firearms manufacturers that have said they are being courted by Horry County. The other, Stag Arms, said it is interested in the area, according to Mark Malkowski, Stage Arms CEO.

Malkowski said he planned a visit to Horry County. He said he is familiar with the Grand Strand because he comes here to play golf when he visits a customer in Columbia.

Fiorini said that it would be advantageous for firearms manufacturers to be located in the same area as they may share suppliers.

Lofton said PTR has agreed to all the terms in the resolution, which provides for the company to lease the building that it will eventually be deeded by Horry County and other things.

Lofton said the Council’s action Tuesday was important to the company because it wants to know that it has political support where it is moving.

The move was precipitated by restrictive gun laws passed by the state of Connecticut.

The action on the PTR resolution was added to the agenda during Tuesday’s meeting, which would seem a violation of an S.C. appeals court ruling last year against boards adding items to agendas during a meeting.

Arrigo Carotti, Horry County attorney, said he had read the ruling and interprets it differently.

“What was done this evening satisfies the letter and the spirit of the law,” he said.

Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association, said Tuesday afternoon that the appeals court made it illegal to add items to the agenda of a public body during a meeting.

The associations of S.C. municipal and county governments advise their members on their websites not to add items to agendas.

The advice does not qualify that some items may be added while others shouldn’t be.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.
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