Gunmaker gets incentives for Maryville move
Handgun maker SCCY Industries is getting an incentive package for its move to Maryville, though some of those perks remain unknown to the public.
Company executives joined state and local economic development officials to announce the gun manufacturer will move its headquarters and factory from Daytona Beach, Fla., to a 68-acre campus in Big Springs Industrial Park.
The one incentive agreement released so far is a contract with the cities of Alcoa and Maryville and the Industrial Development Board of Blount County, dated April 5.
It says SCCY will pay $1,703,050 for the land, but the company will get the same amount back 10 days after closing as a grant to build roads and utilities on the site.
The land price works out to about $25,000 per acre, said Jeff Muir, communications director for the Blount Partnership.
“That was kind of the going rate for industrial park properties that we had,” he said. The sale fills the industrial park’s last remaining parcel, according to Muir.
The company also has a choice: either a two-year property tax abatement on land, buildings and equipment; or a grant of up to $400,000 for training 250 employees.
The April 5 contract deals with county and city incentives. More may be coming from the state and Tennessee Valley Authority, but officials would not disclose specifics.
Jennifer McEachern, communications director for the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development, declined via email to discuss any state incentives.
“There isn’t a contract for this project yet, so I cannot share those details with you at this time,” she wrote.
Nor will TVA disclose anything it may have offered to entice SCCY, agency spokesman Scott Fiedler said Thursday.
“As a part of our business policy, we consider that confidential information,” he said.
TVA considers incentives privileged business data which could be used by other entities for their own recruitment offers.
A call to SCCY’s current office drew “no comment on the move.”
Hundreds of new jobs
The company founder and CEO Joe Roebuck said he will employ at least 350 people in Maryville within the next five years, calling that estimate “very conservative.” But he plans to move only about a half-dozen “key people” to Tennessee as he moves the plant in stages, keeping a “small footprint” in Florida.
Company President Wayne Holt said SCCY is looking for “intelligent and industrious people,” which he found lacking in the Florida workforce.
SCCY announced plans to invest $22.5million in Maryville. Roebuck plans a campus of five industrial buildings, plus a “sky lodge” to house visiting industry leaders and gun writers, with an outdoor shooting range. He wants to start construction on a 75,000-squarefoot plant late this year or early next, and begin production in mid to late 2018. Initially, SCCY will have about 200 employees, hired locally, and will add 50 to 60 people per year for the following three years, he said.
“Anything from office work to machine operator all the way up to high level administrator,” will be hired, Roebuck said. He also intends to start a paid four year apprenticeship program.
The released incentive agreement says SCCY agrees to at least a $15 million investment in improvements and equipment, although that includes equipment the company already owns; Roebuck said he’ll move $10 million in equipment from Florida to Maryville.
The agreement says SCCY pledges to hire at least 250 new employees, paying at least $17 per hour including benefits, within five years.
Benefits normally make up around 30 percent of total wages, indicating that SCCY jobs might pay about $12 per hour, or $25,000 a year before taxes.
According to several cost-of-living calculators, life in Maryville is roughly 10 percent cheaper than life in Daytona Beach.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported July 2 that SCCY was considering a move. The newspaper said Roebuck moved from California to Florida due to the latter’s “political pro-gun atmosphere,” warm weather and proximity to family. SCCY began in 2003 with one leased building in South Daytona Business Park, growing to occupy five buildings as sales rose from $125,000 in 2005 to a projected $30 million in 2016.
Last July, SCCY had 130 employees and planned to hire 10 more, but Roebuck wanted a 100,000-square-foot plant to consolidate operations and employ up to500, according to the News-Journal. But he considered Volusia County land too expensive.
The company’s leases in Daytona Beach are set to expire in about three years, so Roebuck began looking around; Georgia and South Carolina offered free land and discounted buildings, the News-Journal reported.
Volusia County economic development officials told the newspaper they would work on a job-creation reimbursement package to retain the jobs, but couldn’t compete with other incentives. One official there said Florida’s advantage was lack of a state income tax, which Tennessee also lacks.
Recruiting firearms industry
Blount Partnership President and CEO Bryan Daniels said Wednesday the firearms industry is one of the top types of companies Blount County seeks to recruit. Nor is SCCY the first firearm-related company to get an incentive package for locating in Blount County.
In October 2015, Arizona-based Advanced Munitions International Investment Holdings LLC announced it would build a $553 million global headquarters and munitions manufacturing plant in Alcoa’s Partnership Park, creating 605 jobs over five years.
For that the company received an incentive package worth $26.6 million, not counting city and county property tax abatements. The incentives included more than $6 million from the state, a $6.8 million grant from TVA — which the federally-owned utility refused to publicly disclose — and more than $11 million in free land from local government agencies.
AMI maintains the Blount County operation will be up and running by 2018, with an investment of more than $300 million in the first phase.
Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by JIM GAINES
The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit www.eteda.org