Gunmaker Smith & Wesson to relocate to firearms-friendly Tennessee

New York (AFP) –


Weapons maker Smith & Wesson announced Thursday it will relocate its headquarters to the firearms-friendly southern state of Tennessee, citing the increasingly hostile political climate in longtime home Massachusetts.

The 169-year-old weapons manufacturer will shift 750 jobs from Springfield, Massachusetts to Maryville, Tennessee, where local officials agreed to provide tax abatements and other inducements.

Chief Executive Mark Smith cited recently introduced legislation in Massachusetts that, if enacted, "would prohibit the company from manufacturing certain firearms in the state," according to a press release.

"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," Smith said.

"The strong support we have received from the State of Tennessee and the entire leadership of Blount County throughout this process, combined with the quality of life, outdoor lifestyle, and low cost of living in the Greater Knoxville area has left no doubt that Tennessee is the ideal location for Smith & Wesson's new headquarters."

Smith & Wesson plans to keep more than 1,000 jobs in Massachusetts. Staff in Massachusetts will continue to perform metalworking, design engineering and other functions, Smith said on a conference call with analysts.

But Smith & Wesson will close facilities in Connecticut and Missouri and shift some functions to Tennessee.

Tennessee's Republican Governor, Bill Lee, welcomed the announcement and said the shift would result in $125 million in new investment in Tennessee and create 750 jobs.

"Our pro-business reputation, skilled workforce, and commitment to the Second Amendment make Tennessee an ideal location for firearms manufacturing," Lee said in a news release.

"We welcome Smith & Wesson to The Volunteer State and are proud this US-based brand has chosen to relocate from Massachusetts."

Local officials agreed to road construction and utility upgrades as part of a tax abatement agreement with Smith & Wesson, according to a document included in Smith & Wesson's securities filing.