While published reports that Remington Arms has been scouting for manufacturing sites in Tennessee have stirred up rumors, some area officials are optimistic the company will remain in Ilion.
“I’m not too awful nervous,” said Ilion Mayor John Stephens, when contacted Wednesday afternoon.
He said he has had no indication from Remington that the company is planning to move its operations elsewhere. He thought the article in The Tennessean had more to do with the company’s corporate headquarters than its manufacturing operation.
“I’ve seen and heard nothing to indicate Remington is planning to leave the area,” said Stephens. “They’ve committed upwards of $20 million within the last year for equipment and infrastructure.”
Stephens said the community has done quite a bit for Remington.
“We’ll do what’s necessary to keep them here,” he added.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Richard Hanna, R - Barneveld, also indicated that Hanna’s office was not aware of any changes.
“Representative Hanna has not been informed of any planned shift or reduction in workforce at Ilion and has no reason to expect any change in current Remington operations in New York,” said spokeswoman Renee Gamela. “Remington’s Mohawk Valley workforce is second to none and Rep. Hanna will continue working to ensure that our community is a supportive host for Remington Arms.”
State Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R - New Hartford, said she contacted Remington officials Tuesday after hearing about the report and was told that such rumors come up all the time, but that the company is committed to Ilion.
The article in The Tennessean stated Remington had looked at sites near Nashville, Tenn., for a potential corporate relocation or an expansion that would probably include a large number of manufacturing jobs. The article noted states portraying themselves as “gun friendly” have been trying to attract Remington and other gun manufacturers since New York and a handful of other states passed tougher gun control laws in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December, which killed 20 first graders and six educators.
The article also pointed out Remington’s plant in Ilion, which employs about 1,200 workers, makes rifles such a the Bushmaster semiautomatic weapon which is banned under the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.
The Ilion manufacturing plant is the Madison, N.C.-based company’s largest. Earlier this month Remington Arms broke ground on the expansion of its operations at the Remington Ammunition Plant in Lonoke, Ark. Company officials said the expansion would help meet consumer demand for quality ammunition products.
Herkimer County Legislators Gary Hartman, D - Herkimer, and Helen Rose, D - Herkimer, commented on a possible out-of-state expansion or relocation for Remington Arms during a news conference Wednesday morning.
Page 2 of 2 - “We have to be vigilant,” said Rose.
Hartman said he planned to contact state and federal representatives about the issue.
“There’s many, many reasons Remington Arms should stay here,” Hartman said, noting Remington upgraded its facility in March. He also said the company already has a “world-class workforce that already possess the [needed] skills.”
He pointed out the company receives inexpensive Ilion municipal power and added in a written statement there was “a $2 million investment by Herkimer County toward Remington’s equipment upgrades in 2009; a history of support from Republican and Democrat New York state administration officials and state representatives that has resulted in the investment of over $6 million by New York state in recent years to assist Remington Arms’ efforts which have made the existing location a state-of-the-art firearms manufacturing facility and a history of support from Democrats and Republicans from the New York state Congressional delegation that has enabled Remington to secure over $200 million in federal military contracts in recent years.”
Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency Executive director Mark Feane said any comments should come from Remington. “We’ve had continual dialog with the company and will continue to do so,” he said.
A call to a Remington spokeswoman Wednesday afternoon was not returned.
Remington Arms has been in Ilion for almost 200 years.
Contributing: Amanda Fries, GateHouse New York