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“It’s Like Losing A Family Member”: America’s Oldest Gun Maker Ditches New York For Georgia

Source: Flickr/Pacific Kilroy

After over 200 years in New York, iconic firearms manufacturer Remington Arms is packing up and moving to Georgia in March. The closure devastates the small factory town of Ilion, where generations of residents are mourning the loss of the company that shaped their community.

Gun Giant Flees Strict New York Laws

For over two centuries, Remington Arms and Llion were indelibly linked, with the gunmaker serving as the lifeblood of the small upstate village it called home since 1816. Now, the company is deserting its New York roots, blaming state firearm regulations and a lack of industry support for its southern migration.

Source: Fortune

The impending move, slated for March, severs deeply entrenched ties binding one of the country’s most historic gun manufacturers to the community it put on the map. From the factory floor to the main street, residents across Ilion are grieving the loss of an iconic local employer.

Workers Face Grim Reality Of Job Loss

With Remington’s departure, some 300 employees face unemployment in a town of just 7,600. The fallout precipitates a $1 million budget shortfall for local government and threatens the livelihood of surrounding businesses.

Source: Flickr/Mitch Barrie

“It’s like the town is losing its soul,” said Ilion mayor John Stephens, encapsulating residents’ profound sense of loss. “That’s the thing people are struggling with – the nostalgia, the history,” he continued. For many workers, like generations of Brown family members, the plant closing represents an erasure of personal identity rooted in decades of service.

A Core Part Of Community Life Uprooted

Beyond jobs, locals emphasize the vacuum left behind with the uprooting of an employer that had become ingrained as a core pillar of community life. From little league sponsorships to charity drives, Remington and Ilion grew symbiotically, woven together through traditions, institutions, and family lineages.

Source: fortepan

“It’s almost like losing a family member,” Stephens explained, highlighting Remington’s presence at every milestone, from births to funerals. For Jim Conover, a 35-year company veteran now retired, the move is equally personal. “Ilion is Remington. Remington is Ilion,” he lamented, struggling to envision his hometown without its longtime economic engine.

Georgia Woos Gun Giant As Other Manufacturers Flee Northeast

Remington leaders say rigid New York gun regulations and inadequate industry support are fueling its exodus to Georgia. The company will join a growing list of gunmakers fleeing restrictive Northeast policies for Southern states actively courting manufacturers.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Political figures like Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) cited rules like New York’s strict liability laws as direct catalysts for Remington’s decision to decamp. States like Georgia have centered growth efforts on attracting gun and defense companies, touting favorable policies, robust infrastructure, and a large hunting population. Over the past decade, Georgia has emerged as a rising gun manufacturing hub.

Bankruptcy, Tragedy Compounded Company’s Struggles

Financial instability and tragedy have compounded Remington’s challenges in recent years, including two bankruptcy filings since 2018. A 2022 settlement related to the Sandy Hook shootings dealt further setbacks, underscoring the regulatory pressures burdening the firm.

Source: Flickr/Mitch Barrie

CEO Ken D’Arcy contends Georgia’s steadfast support for gunmakers, both politically and economically, promises stability past New York regulations, lacked. Industry advocates argue Remington’s move exemplifies a growing divide, as gun-friendly southern states actively undercut northeastern counterparts with contrasting policy goals regarding firearms.

Factory Town Braces For Economic Blow

Ilion now faces a dire fiscal reality without Remington’s $1 million annual tax payment. Local officials warn the true economic toll will likely expand beyond direct job loss to cripple small businesses reliant on the plant’s workforce.

Source: European Union

As the region’s dominant employer for over two centuries, Remington’s integrated role in powering Ilion’s prosperity complicates efforts to chart a path forward. From restaurants to supply stores, the sweeping ripple effects stand to rewrite the fortunes of the working-class community the company left behind.

Generations Of Families Grapple With Identity Crisis

With some employees able to trace generations of relatives tied to the factory, the pending closure carries deeply personal implications. “My family has 100 years in there,” said Frank Brown, a current technician facing unemployment alongside his wife and other loved ones.

Source: Seth Wenig

The mass layoff serves far more than work histories, representing a painful reckoning for generations of Ilion households that have come to self-identify with Remington as much as the town itself. “It’s been our lives,” Brown explained, grappling with losing a core piece of his identity and lineage.

Company And Community Fates Long Interwoven

Since its founding in 1816, Remington and Ilion’s histories have been densely interdependent, with the fortunes and identities of gunmakers and villages rising in tandem. Local officials emphasize Remington’s role as the lifeblood energizing Lion’s schools, shops, cultural events, and community ties.

Source: sportingclassicsdaily

As the company departs, shocked residents are left making sense of an unfamiliar future where their neighbor, employer, sponsor, and economic engine vanish overnight. Mayor Stephens summarizes the symbiotic relationship now unraveling: “It feels like we are losing the identity of the town.”

Manufacturers Flee Northeast’s ‘Unfriendly Attitudes

Remington’s southward move reflects a broader migration as gunmakers desert restrictive northeast policies many view as outright hostile. One industry advocate points to rules like strict liability measures as evidence of legislative agendas deliberately targeting firearm firms.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Georgia courts manufacturers with specialized workforce programs, logistics infrastructure, and a strongly pro-gun culture – drawing Smith and Wesson, SIG Sauer, and other prominent names as the emerging southern gun manufacturing hub.

Town Mourns as ‘We Lose A Family Member

In the wake of Remington’s announcement, shockwaves of grief and nostalgia ripple from generations of Ilion families mourning the imminent loss of personal, cultural, and economic history bound to the firm’s legacy.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

With a hollowed-out budget and hundreds of jobless, local leaders grapple to envision vibrant community life without its cornerstone. “It’s almost like losing a family member,” Mayor Stephens says, encapsulating the town’s profound sense of bereavement. For better and worse, Remington and Ilion grew together – now left making sense of identity and future suddenly stripped away.

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Matty Jacobson

Written by Matty Jacobson

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