Arkansas Aims to Grow Firearms and Ammunition IndustryJanuary 14, 2022
Every year, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission sets its sights on an important event in January: the SHOT Show.
The 2022 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, or SHOT Show, is the largest professional event for the sport shooting, hunting, and outdoor industry in the United States. In 2021, the trade show will be held January 18-21 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Growing the firearms and ammunition industry in Arkansas is a major focus for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, and members of the AEDC team are making the trip to the SHOT Show in 2022 to tout the strength of Arkansas’ firearms and ammunition industry.
This industry has seen significant growth in recent years with multiple new companies coming into Arkansas and new expansions happening around the state. In 2020, Vista Outdoor acquired the Remington Ammunition facility in Lonoke and has since scaled up production, adding hundreds of jobs at the plant. Fiocchi of America established a new manufacturing facility in Little Rock in 2020, investing $15 million to develop an independent industrial platform for its U.S. operations.
Other major firearm and ammunition industry wins in Arkansas include the expansion of Nighthawk Custom’s gunsmith facility in Berryville in 2018, American Marksman’s expansion in Searcy in 2017, and Gamo/Daisy’s expansion in Rogers in 2017. SIG SAUER relocated its Elite Performance Ammunition manufacturing operations to Jacksonville in 2016, and the company has since increased its investment in Arkansas, adding more operations and creating new jobs at the ammunition facility.
These economic development wins are made possible by the presence of a talented workforce, friendly business environment with the 4th lowest cost of doing business in the United States, and an acceptance of the firearms and ammunition industry in Arkansas.
Why did these companies choose to do business or expand in Arkansas? Here’s what their company executives had to say:
“The Governor and I did talk, and he asked me, ‘Why Arkansas?,’ and I said, ‘We actually picked you, and we picked you because of the business environment, the acceptance of the firearms industry, and really the people,” said Anthony Acitelli, president and CEO for Fiocchi of America.
“We’re excited to be here. I’ve done business in Arkansas before. It’s a beautiful state, great business climate, and a just a place where we want to be. So, we’re here to stay,” said Acitelli.
“When you’re looking to expand, you look at talent, the passion of people. You have to look at the business community and the political side. I can’t think today, as a CEO of SIG for 15 years, of a better place [than Arkansas] that I’d love to expand, with your support,” said Ron Cohen, president and CEO of SIG SAUER.
“When we came here, we thought we’d start maybe 40, 50 people – maybe 60, maybe 70. We have 160 people. We thought we’d start with a little bit of assembly – nothing too complicated. We don’t know the people, we don’t know the state – let’s start it simple,” said Cohen. “Two years later, 160 people work here. SIG has invested $30 million in this facility, and we’re just starting. We are so happy with the talent that we have here, with the culture of working hard, with caring about quality. We are very pleased with what we see here.”
“This relocation, consolidation and expansion is a positive move for our (GAMO/Daisy) family of outdoor sports companies,” CEO Keith Higginbotham said. “The team at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission understood not only our desire to keep Daisy in Rogers but our need to relocate people and inventory and invest in a facility that will best accommodate our growing operations.
As these companies have grown in recent years, Arkansas has worked with them to meet their goals and thrive. Using its one-contact approach, the Business Development team at AEDC strives to meet all the needs of companies looking to grow in Arkansas.
Arkansas has a long history with the firearms and ammunition industry, and The Natural State is moving this tradition into the future as more companies move and expand in the state. With its accepting business environment, low taxes, and favorable legislation, Arkansas is an ideal location for firearms and ammunition companies looking to make a change.