Beretta USA Moves Gun Factory Out of Maryland to Tennessee

Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 06:48 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Firearms stalwart Beretta U.S.A. is moving all its manufacturing from Maryland to a new $45 million production plant in Gallatin, Tenn. – blaming looming restrictions for forcing the gunmaker it to pack it up.

In a statement Tuesday, the company said it'd won a skirmish with Maryland lawmakers, but lost the war over the state's Firearm Safety Act of 2013.

"The version of the statute that passed the Maryland Senate would have prohibited Beretta U.S.A. from being able to manufacture, store or even import into the State products that we sell to customers throughout the United States and around the world," Beretta general manager Jeff Cooper said. 

"While we were able in the Maryland House of Delegates to reverse some of those obstructive provisions, the possibility that such restrictions might be reinstated in the future leaves us very worried about the wisdom of maintaining a firearm manufacturing factory in the state."

Cooper said the Gallatin, Tenn., facility is set to open in mid-2015, and will hire some 300 workers.

"While we had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and for production of new product lines only, we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move the Maryland production lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility," Cooper said.

The Tennessean reported Tuesday said the company's shocker means hiring will be accelerated in Gallatin. 

James Fenton of the Gallatin Economic Development Agency told the newspaper the decision was "a huge endorsement for the city of Gallatin."

"They haven't even broken ground yet, but they've already decided to accelerate their timeline," he told the newspaper. "They obviously feel confident that they will be able to find their workforce and this will be a very good place for them."

Production of the U.S. Armed Forces M9 9mm pistol will continue at the Maryland facility until current orders from the Armed Forces have been filled, the company said.

Beretta will also keep office, administrative and executive support functions at the Accokeek, Md. facility. It also has a distribution facility in Virginia.

Cooper said the company will work out with employees whose jobs are affected by the move if they want to move to Tennessee. If not, the company will discuss "a long-term strategy for remaining with the company while our production in Maryland continues."

Beretta officials had warned a move would hurt Maryland.

Jeffrey Reh, general counsel at Beretta, said in February, 2013 that the gunmaker employed 400 Maryland residents, and from 1997 to 2014, kicked in an estimated $31 million in state taxes and invested $73 million in the company's infrastructure.

The multinational weapons company was founded in Italy 500 years ago. 

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