Sioux City area tries to attract gun makers

A three-state effort is underway to lure firearms manufacturers to move their operations to the Midwest. Debi Durham, president of the Sioux City Chamber of Commerce, says work with a local gun barrel maker, Satern Custom Machining, at trade shows help them expand their contacts in the industry.

Durham says while they were at the trade shows, their representative found that there is a “great deal of discontent” around the country as various state legislatures create laws that gunmakers feel are hostile toward the industry. Durham says the economic development arm of the chamber known as “The Siouxland Initiative” started courting the interest of the gun companies to consider a location in Nebraska, Iowa or South Dakota.

She says they’ve created some relationships with some of the companies that are looking to re-locate. Durham says they now need to locate a park for the companies as they like to be housed together for security and other reasons. Durham says the presence of the Iowa National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing in the Sioux City area offers a potential pool of employees for the firearms makers.

Durham says the Guard has a part-time labor force looking for jobs and a group that has security clearances that are not easy to get, but they’re needed in the gun industry. “So there seems to be, there are some natural synergies around this,” Durham says. She says the discussions are “very preliminary.” Durham says the gun companies could bring from 10 to 50 employees, depending on the type of manufacturing they do.

Durham says South Dakota has been active in seeking gun manufacturers and says it seems like a good fit for Midwestern states. Durham says families here grow up around guns, as people hunt, and there’s not a fear of guns that you find in other places in the country. Durham says the process is like anything else — they put forward the best presentation they can to the companies, and then wait to see what happens.

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