South Dakota to weapons makers: We're open for business

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by Smashy, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. Smashy


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    Jan 22, 2007
    Southwestern Oregon
    Thom Gabrukiewicz

    Spreading the word that South Dakota is home to a "culture of hunting," the state's delegation to January's Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and Conference made a splash with participants.

    The SHOT Show, which concluded Jan. 22 in Las Vegas, is the largest exposition of firearms, ammunition, archery, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics, camping and related products and services. It regularly draws some 55,000 people daily for its four-day run.

    It's owned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which prominently featured Gov. Mike Rounds' one-day visit to the festivities.

    "We were excited to have Gov. Rounds with us at SHOT Show," NSSF senior vice president and general counsel Lawrence G. Keane said in a statement. "Time and again, he has proven himself to be a friend of America's firearms industry, understanding that through our products the Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding Americans are realized."

    South Dakota also got a shout-out from the National Rifle Association, which called it a "forward-looking state - truly a friend to the firearms industry."

    And in an interview with the NRA, posted at, state Department of Tourism Secretary Richard Benda had this to say during a press conference at the SHOT Show:

    "We don't just talk about the outdoor industry. We live it. We get it. South Dakota is absolutely not going to regulate the firearms industry out of business."

    It's all by design.

    The state already is home to a thriving ammunition manufacturing base in the Black Hills. Other, smaller, businesses that do custom firearms work are spread across the state.

    But the message South Dakota wants to give manufacturers: We're open for business - and we've got plenty of incentives for you to move here.

    "It was (by design)," Rounds said. "They gave us a chance to tell our story about South Dakota and developing a niche market for individuals who are actively engaged in the firearms industry. It gave us a real good chance at their banquet and they literally said, 'Hey listen, if you're looking for a place to go, South Dakota is probably the right spot.' "

    While at the show, Rounds said he talked with a manufacturer who asked if the state had zoning limits on the size of a building. In his state, the manufacturer said, zoning limited him to building up to 10,000-square feet. Rather than build several buildings, he said he wanted his plant under one roof.

    "I said, 'Not that we're aware of,' " Rounds said. "We said, 'Please, come to South Dakota, we'll help you, we'll find a way to roll out the red carpet for you, we'll cut red tape, but we won't cut corners.' "

    And the manufactures' response?

    "Depending on if they can get their defense contracts, they're coming to South Dakota," Rounds said.

    Moving to S.D.

    One manufacturer that's made the move is Dakota Ammo, Inc. in Spearfish. The company left Detroit for the Black Hills in 1996.

    "It's very enticing," Mike Shovel, national sales manager for the company, said of South Dakota. "Finding people hasn't been a problem and wages are not outrageous. It's a nice place to be, a beautiful place and they're willing to work with you, help you out as far as economic development."

    For Dick Williamson, bringing a business into the state was about heritage. Some 18 years ago, the owner of Lakota Archery decided it was time to start learning about his Lakota roots through his grandmother who lived on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

    And for several years, he would travel to South Dakota and rekindle ties with his Lakota Sioux relatives.

    "I'd come back and bring stuff, fresh fruit, but I decided that I was doing more harm than good, it was just another entitlement," Williamson said. "They've got an 80 percent unemployment rate. There was something I had to do."

    In September, he moved Lakota Archery from Ohio to the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation and partnered with OctaFlex Environmental Systems in Timber Lake to make custom bows. The company had a major presence at the SHOT Show and plans on competing directly with established brands like Bowtech or Precision Shooting Equipment.

    "Instead of starting a business on the reservation and taxing their resources, I decided to incubate it off the reservation and then bring it back," he said. "It was the perfect thing to do. And the governor's office was just incredible to work with, they helped us all the way."

    That help has already reaped more rewards for the state. Williamson has now partnered with an Israeli company, TDI Arms, to manufacture accessories for tactical firearms in Rapid City.

    "It started out cultural, but it turned into the right thing to do," Williamson said. "What you're seeing is cottage industries springing up around what we're doing."

    What's more, half the state's legislators - Democrats and Republicans alike - are sponsoring a bill that would exempt domestic manufacturers of firearms and ammunition from federal regulations. South Dakota is following Montana's lead in the legislation. Some 20 states are considering such legislation.

    A legal battle

    Firearms, firearm accessories and ammunition manufactured in-state would not be subject to federal regulations if those items remain within the borders of South Dakota. Any firearms produced here would need to be stamped "Made in South Dakota," and the provision applies to firearms, accessories and ammunition produced and retained within the state after July 1.

    The measure doesn't apply to automatic weapons, crew-served weapons or exploding ammunition. Even so, it's a direct challenge to federal authority over firearms. Congress regulates interstate commerce under the Constitution's Commerce Clause - an avenue that allows for federal regulation of firearms and ammunition.

    The legislation - and similar bills across the U.S. - will set a stage for a legal battle with the federal government.

    "I think every state that passes something like this will add another rock to the pile and momentum to the legal case," said Sen. Larry Rhoden, a Union Center Republican who is the prime sponsor in the Senate.

    That legislation adds another reason for arms and ammo makers to consider South Dakota.

    "South Dakota is the most business-friendly state in the nation, and the strong work ethic of our citizens makes them excellent employees," Rounds told participants during the show. "We are proud to say there is no state income tax in South Dakota, and we also try to make it as easy as possible to start and grow businesses in the state."

    Shooting sports enthusiasts are ecstatic about the push to lure firearm manufacturers.

    "I think it's a wonderful move," said Dan Anderson, a board member with the South Dakota Shooting Sports Association, a nonprofit association of hunters, collectors, competitive shooters and general firearm enthusiasts who work promote and protect the interests of firearm owners across the state.

    "Here's a state with no income tax, a state that is business-friendly and a state where people want to work. And, you've got a business that doesn't have a slow bone in it's body right now. It's ripe for growth."
  2. Bruce H

    Bruce H

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    Dec 5, 2000
    :rofl: Yeah but most factories need more than three people to operate. "snicker, snicker".:tongueout: