Local, Congressional leaders weigh in on Smith & Wesson move | News
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM)–Smith & Wesson, the gun manufacturing giant, is moving its headquarters from Springfield to Tennessee in 2023, impacting 500 jobs here in western Mass.
A top reason: Pending legislation that would prohibit the company from making certain firearms here in Massachusetts, as well a lower cost of living down South. We wanted to know, what’s to stop other businesses from following suit? Western Mass News learned more on what actions local leaders are taking.
We brought these questions to Congressman Richard Neal and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, about how to find a balance between prioritizing gun control, while trying to keep companies like Smith & Wesson here in the Bay State.
“My goal obviously and CEO and president mark smith has indicated to me the assurances of those other thousand jobs staying here. We want to keep them here,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.
Of the 1,500 Smith & Wesson employees in Springfield, 500 will be without jobs when the gun manufacturer moves its headquarters from Springfield to Tennessee in 2023.
Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno confirmed, proposed state legislation aimed at limiting the product line that could be manufactured in the state played a factor in Smith and Wesson president and CEO Mark Smith’s decision.
“His board, they are very leery of the legislation. they made the call to say it’s time to move those jobs,” said Sarno.
Sarno told Western Mass News his top priority is finding those 500 people new jobs and retaining the 1,000 existing jobs here in western Mass.
“It’s a balancing act right now. So now we look ahead to move forward, how to keep Smith and Wesson, those thousand jobs here. Maybe hopefully expand,“ said Mayor Sarno.
We also spoke with congressman Richard Neal about the history of manufacturing jobs leaving Springfield and Chicopee, two cities that thrived in the build-up in manufacturing dating back to the 1950s.
“Accessible land, energy costs, and at that time, unionization,” said Rep. Neal.
But how do you retain jobs going forward in spite of recent moves? Rep. Neal identifies the tax system for one.
“You need a modern skill set to not only produce those products but recruit people to stay and live here. And the tax system ought to be part of that consideration,” said Rep. Neal.
For Arno, it’s a balancing act between enforcing gun control that may push companies like Smith and Wesson out of state and retaining jobs in Massachusetts.
“I’m hopeful that the state legislature, they can pursue a plausible compromise or a plausible agreement that keeps good-paying manufacturing jobs here in the city of Springfield,“ said Mayor Sarno.
The move will not take place until 2023, but local leaders like Sarno and Neal said the focus on helping employees find new work starts now.