Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and other local officials welcomed gun manufacturer Remington Outdoor Co. to town this week.
The company plans to take over an old Chrysler building in Huntsville for a new plant that is expected to be operational within the next year and a half and will bring more than 2,000 jobs, company and state officials said. In addition to manufacturing firearms, Remington also makes ammunition, clothing and accessories.
Alabama is a perfect fit for Remington because of the state'scommitment to business and economic development, as well as its conservative politics and unwavering support for the right to bear arms, Bentley said.
The Madison, N.C.-based company, which is part of the nation's largest firearms company and has its largest plant in Ilion, N.Y., had scouted sites in the Nashville area, including sites in Nashville, Lebanon and in Clarksville.
Remington is among a growing number of gun manufacturers nationwide that have been courted by states pitching themselves as more gun-friendly. The wooing came after a handful of states, including New York, passed tougher gun control laws in the aftermath of last December's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators.
Last month, for instance, gunmaker Baretta announced it was opening a facility in Gallatin near Nashville that will bring 300 jobs to the region. The company had expressed frustration about gun laws that were passed in Maryland, where it has a large manufacturing facility and began looking to more gun-friendly states for expansion.
Remington CEO George Kollotides told the gathered state and local officials that, like Alabama, his company has a passion for the outdoors, strongly supports the military and fights for individual freedoms. Still, he said, choosing a site from among the proposals offered by two dozen states was not a simple task.
"We undertook a very rigorous process, examining labor, quality of life, business climate and, of course, pro-gun policies," he said. "Huntsville won hands-down. In addition to being everything we needed in all those categories, it had a phenomenal home for us in an existing facility which allows us to hit the ground running."
Kollotides said his company is growing quickly — from 2,400 employees in 2008 to 4,200 now — and the additional capacity in Alabama is essential for it to meet demand and to introduce new products. The company's corporate headquarters is in North Carolina, and it has 19 locations in the United States.