Governor Hutchinson’s weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE.
LITTLE ROCK – When I ran for Governor in 2014, I wanted to be the jobs governor, and today I’d like to talk about our work to bring firearm industry jobs to our state.
On my first day in office I made calls to six CEOs across the country to recruit them to Arkansas. One of those calls was to Ron Cohen, CEO of Sig Sauer.
Just over one year later we announced that Sig Sauer would be relocating its Elite Performance Ammunition manufacturing operation to Jacksonville. But this wasn’t the beginning of the firearms industry in the state.
In 1969, Governor Winthrop Rockefeller joined Remington Arms to break ground on their new plant in Lonoke. He even proclaimed July 23, 1969, as “A Day to Welcome Remington Arms.” The proclamation states, “this multi-million-dollar plant will employ approximately 1,000 people, thereby bringing new prosperity to the community and to the State.”
Today, more than 50 years later, that same Remington plant in Lonoke continues to thrive and grow under the ownership of Vista Outdoor, employing hundreds more people than when the plant first opened in the late 1960s.
When I took office I tried to recruit industries that would be mesh with the culture of the state. I knew of the history of the Remington plant and Arkansas’s respect of the Second Amendment, so the firearms industry was a natural fit.
In 2015, I was the only governor to attend the SHOT Show, the industry’s leading trade show. Since then, I’ve taken a delegation from Arkansas every year they’ve held the event. Governors from states like Georgia, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Montana have since followed our lead and attended the SHOT Show in an effort to recruit these companies.
Because of our rich history and continued efforts to attract these businesses, we’ve seen steady growth over the past eight years. While it began in 2016 with Sig Sauer in Jacksonville, that’s not where it ended. In 2017, Gamo/Daisy Outdoor, the maker of the legendary Red Ryder BB gun, expanded their production in Rogers.
Ammunition manufacturer American Marksman in Searcy and high-end firearm creator Nighthawk Custom in Berryville have also expanded their presence in the Natural State.
During the pandemic in 2020, Fiocchi of America announced their decision to move primer production to Arkansas. When they made this decision they also acquired some of the assets of Grandeur Fasteners in Danville, which was a supplier for Sig Sauer. Just last month, Fiocchi announced the largest investment in the firearms industry in Arkansas with over $41 million dollars and 120 new jobs coming to the Port of Little Rock.
The Remington Arms factory that Governor Rockefeller helped bring to our state was also purchased by Vista Outdoor in 2021 and reopened to bring an additional 450 jobs back to the state.
As governor, I focused on job creation and the growth of the firearms industry is a great fit for Arkansas. Now our state is known as a premier destination for the firearm industry.