View Count: 141 |  Publish Date: September 03, 2013
Gun company finds bullseye in PA after NY restricts sales
Melissa Daniels, PA INDEPENDENTLast updated: Tuesday, September 3, 2013, 2:58 PM
HARRISBURG — When it comes to job creation, one state’s loss is another state’s gain.
Kahr Firearms Group, a gun manufacturer, is moving its corporate headquarters from downstateNew Yorkto a 620-acre plot inPike County, in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania.
The move comes after New York earlier this year passed the SAFE Act, banning sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Kahr SpokeswomanSheryl Gallupsaid the company was mulling an expansion in New York before the legislation, but then found Pennsylvania’s gun laws “less restrictive.”
The Kahr headquarters will move into a business park inBlooming Grove, one that thePike County Economic Development Authorityhas looked to fill for the past 10 to 15 years.
The economy of Pike County, on Pennsylvania’s eastern border about 75 miles fromNew York City, used to thrive on tourism and second homes. Post-recession, though, those industries are lagging. Pike County has a 9.1 percent unemployment rate among its 57,000 residents, one of the highest in the state, according to July figures.
“When we see an opportunity for a company such as Kahr coming into Pike County, we see it coming to offset that unemployment rate,” saidPike County Commissioner Matt Osterberg.
Kahr’s decision, though stemming from extenuating circumstances, was solidified with a local tax incentive.
Osterberg said Kahr will receive aLocal Economic Revitalization Tax Assistancepackage along with the $2 million purchase price. The program, called LERTA, gives businesses partial property tax exemptions on building improvements. The business still pays its full property tax bill on the pre-improvement assessed value of the land, but exemptions apply to the increased value, resulting in a lower tax bill for five years after the improvements. (Ed.: Kahr Arms is owned by Justin Moon, the fourth son of Unification Church founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon.)
Osterberg said predominantly rural Pike doesn’t have as much public infrastructure as other places, and businesses doing renovations may provide new water, sewer or gas setups.
“This is one way we can give them a little bit of a carrot, a little bit of an incentive,” said Osterberg. “I’m just glad they’re here.”
Steve Kratz, spokesman for theDepartment of Community and Economic Development, confirmed the state gave no financial awards nor met with Kahr before the announcement.
The first step in creating Kahr’s Pennsylvania headquarters will involve construction, which could start later this year. Management and research-and-development teams will work first, with manufacturing operations coming next. Kahr will begin the move with a 10-person corporate staff in the new location, though eventual employment may be somewhere between 100 and 200 new jobs, theAssociated Presssays.
“We’re looking for a more friendly environment for our business,”Frank Harris, Kahr’s vice president for sales and marketing, said, according to the AP. “Maybe we could have stayed here and built a plant, but the way the bill was passed left us feeling there were a lot of uncertainties going forward.”
Pennsylvania has no such bans on assault weapon or high magazine sales.
Contact Melissa Daniels at
The Pennsylvania Independent is a public interest journalism project dedicated to promoting open, transparent, and accountable state government by reporting on the activities of agencies, bureaucracies, and politicians in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is funded by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a nonprofit libertarian organization.
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