CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Firearms manufacturer Weatherby Inc. is relocating its manufacturing operations and corporate headquarters from California to Wyoming, marking another catch by Wyoming of a company abandoning a state that isn't as gun friendly.
Weatherby's move to Sheridan is expected to create 70 to 90 jobs and more than $5 million in annual payroll over the next five years.
Company and state officials, including Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, announced the move Tuesday at a gun industry trade show in Las Vegas.
"We wanted a place where we could retain a great workforce, and where our employees could live an outdoor lifestyle," Adam Weatherby, chief executive officer of the company, said in a statement. "We wanted to move to a state where we can grow into our brand. Wyoming means new opportunities. We are not interested in maintaining; we are growing."
Founded in 1945, Weatherby, which is now based in Paso Robles, California, produces various rifles, ammunition and shooting accessories for hunting and range shooting.
Mead said in a telephone interview from Las Vegas that the move by Weatherby helps the state's goal of diversifying its economy, which is heavily reliant on the volatile minerals industry.
"We're down here trying to recruit some more," Mead said.
Weatherby is the latest gun industry manufacturer to move its operations to Wyoming in the last five years from states that were not seen as friendly to the gun industry. Several companies, including Magpul Industries, moved their manufacturing operations to Wyoming from Colorado after Colorado lawmakers enacted stricter limits on the sale of firearms accessories.
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California has some of the nation's strictest gun laws and has recently adopted new restrictions on certain ammunition purchases, gun owners convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor and concealed carry guns on school grounds.
Mead said the situation in other states has allowed Wyoming, a strong pro-gun state, to "recruit some of these companies that may be not satisfied where they are."
The announcement Tuesday also revealed the name of the company that had gone through a process of obtaining financial assistance from the state of Wyoming over the last few months for its move without the company's name being publicly identified.
Last week, the Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board approved a $12.5 million grant to a Sheridan economic development organization to construct a building to house an unnamed company's operations.
Under the terms of the state grant, the local Sheridan economic development organization will use the grant money to construct a building for Weatherby and then lease it to the company for 20 years with an option to buy. The lease payments will eventually cover the cost of the grant, and the state and the Sheridan organization will each receive about $6 million in return from the lease payments.
Weatherby also has committed to investing an estimated $2 million in relocation costs and capital investment in the building.
No one could be reached immediately for comment Tuesday at the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce.