The firearms company Smith & Wesson is moving its headquarters from Springfield, Massachusetts to Tennessee and selling its plastic injection molding facility in Deep River. The Smith & Wesson part of the Deep River operation will move to Tennessee while the part of the business that works with other customer businesses will be divested, according to a news release from the company.
A news release from Smith & Wesson says that more than 750 jobs will be moving from Springfield, Massachusetts; Deep River, Connecticut; and Columbia, Missouri to Maryville, Tennessee. It’s not clear how many of those jobs are in Connecticut.
The plastic injection molding facility in Deep River services both Smith & Wesson as well as several “external customers,” according to the company. The Smith & Wesson portion of the operations will be moved to Tennessee while the external customer business will stay in Connecticut and will be divested.
The gunmaker founded in 1852 is currently centered in Springfield, Massachusetts, a state where company officials say legislative proposals would prohibit them from manufacturing certain weapons.
A proposal in the Democrat-led Massachusetts state Legislature would extend the state's ban on the sale and possession of assault weapons or large-capacity magazines to also outlaw manufacturing them in Massachusetts, unless it's for the military or law enforcement.
"While we are hopeful that this arbitrary and damaging legislation will be defeated in this session, these products made up over 60% of our revenue last year, and the unfortunate likelihood that such restrictions would be raised again led to a review of the best path forward for Smith & Wesson,'' Mark Smith, Smith & Wesson CEO, said in a news release.
Tennessee's Department of Economic and Community Development says Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. will move its headquarters, distribution, assembly and plastic injection molding operations to Maryville, 18 miles south of Knoxville. Groundbreaking is planned before the end of the year.
One of the reasons to head to Tennessee, the company reasoned, is its "support for the 2nd Amendment.''
Tennessee has moved to loosen gun restrictions in recent years. Earlier this year, the state became the latest to allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns without a permit that requires first clearing a state-level background check and training.
The move is slated to begin in 2023 and the company said the move would not impact employees until then.
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"We are making this announcement now to ensure that each employee has the time to make the decision that is right for them and their families. We are firmly committed to working on an individual level with each and every one of those who will be affected. We will assist any affected employee who is willing and able to move with financial and logistical relocation assistance. However, we also fully realize that this is simply not feasible for some. Therefore, for any affected employee who cannot move with us, we will offer enhanced severance and job placement services. We understand that this announcement will be very difficult for our employees, and we will do everything we can to assist them during this transition," Smith said in a statement. All employees whose jobs are moved will be given these offers.
According to Smith & Wesson, the facility in Springfield will be reconfigured but will remain operational. The company plans to keep some of its manufacturing operations in Springfield, with more than 1,000 employees in Massachusetts.