For over two centuries, the village of Ilion in New York’s Mohawk Valley has been synonymous with Remington, the nation’s oldest gun manufacturer, which has announced plans to close its original factory early next month. This decision has profound implications for the local community, ending a legacy that began with Eliphalet Remington forging his first rifle barrel in 1816. The closure is attributed to the high operational costs of the historic plant, as reported in a recent Associated Press article, leading Remington to consolidate its operations in Georgia, a move seen as seeking a more industry-supportive environment.
This shift away from Ilion marks a significant change for the village, which has long relied on the factory for employment and economic stability. At its peak, the plant employed about 1,300 workers, but recent years have seen a significant reduction in its workforce. The departure of Remington is not just an economic loss but a cultural shift for a town deeply intertwined with the gun-making industry.
“It’s going to be like part of your family has moved off,” Jim Conover, a retired Remington production manager, told the AP, highlighting the deep personal connections many in Ilion have with the company.
The factory’s closure is expected to have a dramatic impact on Ilion, a village of 7,600 people, facing the loss of a major revenue source and the challenge of repurposing a large, vacant industrial site. The AP noted local businesses, such as Franco’s Pizza, have already felt the economic downturn as the factory’s workforce has dwindled. The village anticipates losing nearly $1 million annually in utility payments and taxes with the factory’s closure.
Remington’s decision to move reflects broader industry trends, with other firearms manufacturers relocating to states with more favorable business and legislative environments for the gun industry. This shift is often attributed to operational costs, labor and legislative pressures in their original states, but it’s no secret the once strong—and union heavy—industrial havens of the Northeast have become costly to operate in and for guns, openly hostile by left-leaning legislation across the region. What should be more surprising is that there are any firearms operations still calling the Northeast home.
Remington’s move to Georgia follows its purchase by RemArms in 2020 after the company faced legal and financial challenges, including bankruptcy filings and a significant lawsuit following the Sandy Hook school massacre.
The company won’t be the first firearms maker to commit to a more gun-friendly state. The article noted that Smith & Wesson opened its new Tennessee headquarters in October after being based in Springfield, Massachusetts, since 1852. Remington likely won’t be the last either.
As for the future of the town, hard times are sure to follow with the pull out of Remington. Even the future of the Ilion plant site, listed for sale at $10 million, remains uncertain, with hopes it can be transformed into a mix of manufacturing, retail and residential spaces. Despite the challenges ahead, local officials are optimistic about finding new uses for the site and maintaining the village’s historic identity.
Mayor John Stephens expressed to the AP his confidence in the community’s resilience, stating, “You can’t erase history,” emphasizing the enduring legacy of Remington in Ilion despite the factory’s closure.
The factory is expected to close on or around March 4.
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