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Knoxville News Sentinel
A gun manufacturer that had pledged to invest $22.5 million in East Tennessee is pulling out of the region and returning the land it received as economic incentive.
Though it never built its planned headquarters in Maryville, SCCY Firearms (pronounced “sky”) will close its leased manufacturing facility in Maryville by the end of October and move all operations back to Daytona Beach, Florida, CEO Joe Roebuck told The Daytona Beach News-Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Roebuck said he informed Tennessee officials last week that he was scrapping plans for a nine-building campus in Blount County.
Instead, he’ll retain headquarters in Daytona Beach and open a second plant there. SCCY manufactures semi-automatic pistols.
Joe Roebuck, founder and CEO of handgun maker SCCY Industries, announced in 2017 that his company would relocate headquarters to Maryville. (Photo: Jim Gaines / USA TODAY Network – Tennessee)
Roebuck said he is walking away from nearly $1 million already invested in Maryville and “never took a dime” of any offered economic incentives other than the land. Jeff Muir, communications director for the Blount Partnership, said the land will be returned.
“(The decision) was definitely a shock,” Muir said. “We had high expectations when he came here. We worked diligently with him to help him get employees. He paid his taxes and made donations (to Maryville area charities). I think it came down to wages.”
Roebuck, who had promised at least 350 new jobs in five years, said finding skilled workers in Maryville was more difficult than he anticipated, citing labor costs that were “30% more than (Daytona Beach)” thanks to a “large manufacturer” in Maryville offering higher starting salaries than he could afford.
DENSO Manufacturing, located in Maryville, has four plants totaling more than 2.3 million square feet and employs more than 4,150 people.
Company planned for 75,000 square foot facility
SCCY announced in April 2017 that it would relocate its headquarters to a 68-acre campus in Big Springs Industrial Park in Maryville. Roebuck said SCCY would, within five years, hire 350 jobs total and at least 250 new jobs that paid at least $17 an hour, including benefits.
Roebuck said then that the Daytona Beach facility would be gradually shut down as construction began on a 75,000-square-foot plant in Maryville. The campus was planned to include five industrial buildings, a lodge for visiting industry leaders and an outdoor shooting range.
Behind the deal: Gun company SCCY gets incentives for Maryville move
SCCY received economic incentive from Alcoa, Maryville and the Industrial Development Board of Blount County. The deal included a $1.7 million grant — the same as the cost of the land — to build roads and install utilities on site. It also included the choice between a two-year property tax abatement on the land, buildings and equipment or a $400,000 grant to train employees, according to past reports in Knox News.
Construction plans were delayed, Roebuck said, by an industry-wide sales slump. Instead, Roebuck leased a 10,000-square-foot building in Maryville to test the market, maintaining operations in Daytona Beach.
Roebuck told Knox News in 2017 that Tennessee was attractive for its pro-economic development stance and the quality of life in Maryville.
Email business reporter Brenna McDermott at bren[email protected] and follow her on Twitter @_BrennaMcD.
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