Smith & Wesson, the gun manufacturer that has been based in Springfield, Massachusetts since before the Civil War, announced Thursday that it plans to move its headquarters to Tennessee, costing the region hundreds of jobs.
In a conference call with reporters and stock analysts, company President and CEO Mark Smith cited legislation pending on Beacon Hill that would, if passed, prohibit the manufacturing of certain firearms in the state as the key reason for the move.
“While we are certainly hopeful this arbitrary and damaging legislation will be defeated in this session, these products made up over 60 percent of our revenue last year,” he said. “And the unfortunate likelihood that such restrictions would be raised again, led to a review of the best path forward for Smith & Wesson.”
The company plans to keep some manufacturing operations in Springfield and continue to employ about 1,000 people in Massachusetts. 750 jobs that are being relocated to Maryville, Tennessee include positions from Springfield and two other facilities in Deep River, Connecticut and in Missouri. Smith said the company will offer to pay some relocation expenses, and also enhanced severance to employees who choose not to move.
“We understand that this announcement will be very difficult for our employees, and we will do everything we can to assist them in the transition,” he said.
According to the office of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, 550 jobs will be eliminated at the Smith & Wesson headquarters. In a statement, Sarno called the news “devastating” to the affected employees and their families. He pledged his office would help with job placement and retraining.