I don't have a crystal ball but I think this is only the first of many expansions by firearms makers outside of their traditional "Gun Valley" home. I think the moves will be made for two major reasons: a more favorable (and gun friendly) business climate in the new location and lower personnel costs due to non-unionized workforces. It was only last year that Olin Corporation's Winchester Division began moving most of its center-fire ammunition production from East Alton, IL to Oxford, Mississippi. That move was done for both those reasons.
I would also keep my eye on announcements out of the state of South Dakota. They have an industrial development project run out of the governor's office that is targeting firearms manufacturers and others in the gun industry. They promote their gun-friendly attitude as an attraction for businesses in the industry.
The full announcement for the office of Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) is below:
12/1/2011 Osceola County, Fla. – Today, Colt’s Manufacturing Co. LLC announced its commitment to create 63 jobs in Osceola County for its new regional headquarters and product manufacturing center. The center will hire people for engineering and manufacturing jobs, among others. In 2012, Colt is projected to begin phasing in the first of 63 jobs paying an average salary of $45,060 to be created during the following three years. Governor Rick Scott and Colt’s Manufacturing Company President and CEO Lieutenant General M. William Keys USMC (Ret.) were joined by the Osceola County Board of County Commissioners for the announcement.Osceola County is located southeast of Orlando and just due west of Cape Canaveral.
“As a supporter of new job creation and the Second Amendment, this announcement sends the clear message that Florida is both open for business and a defender of our right to bear arms,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said. “My primary responsibility as governor is to be our state’s chief advocate for job creation. My personal involvement in bringing Colt to Florida demonstrates my administration’s deep commitment to rebuilding our economy.”
Colt is making a $2.5 million capital investment in a vacant building, which the company will lease, that is owned by Osceola County. Governor Scott and his economic development team at Enterprise Florida Inc. and the Osceola County Economic Development Department worked with Colt to bring this project to fruition. State incentives include $250,000 from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund and funds for workforce training. Osceola County is offering additional incentives, including renovation of the building and rent concessions.
“Colt looked at many possible sites across the nation, but we ultimately decided to locate our new facility in the State of Florida,” Gen. Keys said. “Florida offered a strong pro-business incentive package. Coupled with the low cost of doing business in Florida and a favorable regulatory environment, opening this new facility was very attractive to us. Governor Scott’s personal commitment to both Colt’s growth plan and America’s right to bear arms was instrumental in our decision.”
“Attracting an American icon like Colt, which is one of the world’s top brands, is a real coup for our economic development efforts,” said Commission Chairman John Quiñones. “Beyond creating new, high-wage jobs, Colt is going to be a great asset to our community.”
“Colt’s expansion to Osceola County is a perfect fit for the region,” said Dr. Sanford Shugart, president of Valencia College, which will design a specialized training program for the company. “Valencia College stands ready to deliver the best trained, best educated workforce possible. We welcome Colt’s Manufacturing Company to Osceola County and commit to partnering with them and serving their employees and families for many years to come.”