Nexstar’s WATE reports that the 165-year-old company will invest $125 million to relocate headquarters to Maryville, Tennessee, over the next two years.
In addition to relocating the headquarters, Smith & Wesson will transfer its distribution, assembly and plastic injection molding operations. The move will create 750 new jobs, according to a release from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
The company plans to break ground in a commercial area known as Partnership Park North before the end of the year. The move is expected to be completed by Summer 2023.
“This has been an extremely difficult and emotional decision for us, but after an exhaustive and thorough analysis, for the continued health and strength of our iconic company, we feel that we have been left with no other alternative,” said President and Chief Executive Officer of Smith & Wesson Mark Smith.
Smith said recently proposed legislation in Massachusetts would prevent the company from manufacturing certain firearms in the Commonwealth — firearms that account for 60% of the company’s revenue.
“These bills would prevent Smith & Wesson from manufacturing firearms that are legal in almost every state in America and that are safely used by tens of millions of law-abiding citizens every day exercising their Constitutional 2nd Amendment rights, protecting themselves and their families,” said Smith in a press release. “The unfortunate likelihood that such restrictions would be raised again led to a review of the best path forward for Smith & Wesson.”
Nexstar’s WWLP in Springfield, Massachussetts, reports that the state has some of the strictest gun laws in the country due to the stance state lawmakers have taken on gun control, but now they face new scrutiny as a large employer blames them for their exit.
Back in 2004, Republican Gov. Mitt Romney signed an assault weapons ban into law. Since then, assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines have been banned from being bought or sold in Massachusetts.
Companies like Smith & Wesson have been operating under what legislators refer to as a ‘loophole’ in the current law – which allows them to manufacture assault weapons and ship them off to other states.
Lawmakers decided to close that loophole and make it illegal to manufacture one of Smith & Wesson’s most popular products.
WWLP reports that the location in Springfield, Massachusetts, will remain operational but will be reconfigured. Several manufacturing operations will remain in Springfield, including forging, machining, metal finishing and assembling revolvers. Smith & Wesson will still have more than 1,000 employees in the state.
Tennessee state officials tell WATE that Tennessee ranks No. 1 in the nation for employment in the small arms and ammunition sector, with employment increasing by 54% over the last five years. There are over 20 small arms and ammunition manufacturers located in Tennessee.
“Our pro-business reputation, skilled workforce and commitment to the Second Amendment make Tennessee an ideal location for firearms manufacturing,” Gov. Bill Lee said of the move.
Smith & Wesson has been based in Springfield, Massachusetts, since 1852. Company officials said facilities in Connecticut and Missouri will close when the move is complete.