SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Since the Civil War era, Smith & Wesson has been manufacturing guns in Springfield. However, with Massachusetts lawmakers contemplating legislation that would ban the manufacturing of semi-automatic rifles, Smith & Wesson is making the transition to Tennessee.

“When you move a headquarters, you lose the contacts with the individuals who lead those companies, and there’s an economic spin there,” said Rick Sullivan, President of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council.

Smith & Wesson’s history goes way back to Springfield, having been based in the city since 1832. This move down south means 550 employees will either have to relocate or lose their jobs. For Mayor Domenic Sarno, this was something he saw coming, based on previous conversations with Smith & Wesson leaders.

Many benefitted from Smith and Wesson being in Springfield. Local firearms stores telling 22News they are going to feel this loss.

“You could see this coming in past conversations,” said Mayor Sarno. “Now my goal is to deal with the effective 550 employees, and just as important the assurance to retain those 1,000 good-paying jobs.”
In a conference call, the CEO affirmed that the 1,000 machinery jobs in Springfield will remain intact.

“We do see a lot of customers that support the brand because of the fact that it’s a local company they’ve been here for close to 170 years that does mean something to a lot of customers that are looking to purchase something. they’ve been around and supported and they also provide a lot of jobs to this area,” said Mike Meunier, co-owner of Pioneer Valley Arms.

President and CEO of Smith and Wesson, Mark Smith said, “To not co-locate that would be disruptive to us operationally so that will all stay and all the associate jobs will stay with that. Those 1000 jobs will be operational, so machine operators.”

President of the Western Massachusetts Regional Economic Development Council, Rick Sullivan told 22News why their move down south is a huge loss for Springfield and the rest of the region.

“It’s absolutely a loss not only for Springfield but really for the region. But all the reasons we’ve talked about, the jobs, the economic spin-off, it’s the downcycle into supply chain manufacturers, and the loss of the time and talent of the senior leadership team that contributes a lot to the region,” said Sullivan. He added that there are concerns about how this decision could impact the supply chain going forward.

22News got the chance to speak with Bud Williams and hear his thoughts on this major announcement.

“The legislation talked about them being able to sell assault weapons to the military and police but not to average citizens and I just think it’s a bottom-line they wanna move jobs to Tennessee where they pay eight bucks an hour, they have no income tax in Tennessee so it was a corporate situation,” said Williams.

The 550 Springfield employees that will have to be relocated have some time to make the transition or find other work since the move won’t begin until 2023. Smith & Wesson will provide severance and job placement services to those who are unable to make the move.