Smith & Wesson, the longtime Springfield gun manufacturer that in September announced plans to move its headquarters to Tennessee, has broken ground on a new facility.
WATE, an ABC News affiliate, reported that the gunmaker broke ground among state and local leaders at a 240-acre site currently dubbed Partnership Park North in East Tennessee.
MassLive reported in September that in response to a proposed state law that would ban Massachusetts manufacturers from making certain handguns and rifles here, Smith & Wesson decided to move its headquarters and some manufacturing by 2023 to Tennessee, a state with less restrictive gun laws.
The company plans to retain about 1,000 jobs, including in metal cutting and precision manufacturing operations, at its Springfield plant, but will lay off about 550 local workers.
“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,” Mark Smith, president and CEO, said in a statement in September.
In October, Smith said his company didn’t want to make an enemy out of Massachusetts, but argued some lawmakers have put the manufacturer “under attack.”
He cited legislation proposed by Springfield state Rep. Bud Williams and others that, if enacted, would bar the company from making military-style rifles with high capacities and some handguns in the commonwealth. The law was proposed in response to mass shootings.
This spring, Williams and other supporters said they did not think the proposal would force Smith & Wesson to pull out of the state.
Most Tennessee adults 21 and older can carry handguns without a permit that requires a state-level background check and training, FOX Business reported.
Gov. Bill Lee said the move by the gun manufacturer, which was founded in 1852, demonstrated a business-friendly environment in his state. Officials expect the $125 million investment to create 750 jobs over the next two years, FOX Business reported.
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