As gun makers face challenges in the weapons industry, German-owned Sig Sauer is taking up an offer from Arkansas to do business here and is already expanding an ammunition plant in Jacksonville.
Governor Asa Hutchinson joined political leaders for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting outside the 70,000-sq.ft. facility Tuesday.
“This is a great economic boost,” the Republican governor said. “It’s creating jobs and boosting, from an economic standpoint, spending in our state.”
Sig Sauer will have 160 employees making and loading ammunition and manufacturing night scopes. The payroll is triple what the company first planned.
The company is known for its pistols and military rifles, but when the governor first called, Arkansas was not well known to the company.
“It was like ‘you're from what state?’” Gov. Hutchinson recalled the conversation. “I said ‘have you ever thought about doing business in Arkansas?’ No, we haven't.’”
Sig Sauer CEO Ron Cohen took that cold call from the governor and Tuesday pointed to his growing friendship with him while also touting the good work his Jacksonville employees are putting out.
“You wake up early. You work hard,” Cohen said. “And you're not allowed a second that's not perfect, because what you do is not an iPhone.”
Cohen lives near the company’s U.S. headquarters in Newington, N.H. He didn’t want to talk to reporters about the pressures a company like his faces in that part of the country and across the globe.
Governor Hutchinson, on the other hand, is quick to offer a friendly handshake to any other gun makers looking to relocate.
“Many of these companies that are in the northeast historically have connections there,” the governor said. “That's not a very firearm friendly state, and they're passing laws that are more restrictive. It is an opportunity for us because of our talent, because of our excellent manufacturing experience, but also because we recognize the Second Amendment, and these companies appreciate that.”
Other political leaders in attendance echoed that sentiment who are ready to extend to supply weapons to where they say they're needed.
“I mean you have to give your law enforcement and your military certainly the tools to keep us free,” said Jacksonville Mayor Bob Johnson. “So yeah, I'm open arms. Come one. Come All.”
Rep. French Hill (R – AR) said the expansion is part of a strategy to promote the state's military facilities as opportunity zones for defense contractors like Sig Sauer.
In addition, the Jacksonville police department will now all be using Sig Sauer weapons.