SC and Texas vie for gun maker Stag Arms

06/28/2013 12:01 AM

06/28/2013 12:04 AM

Stag Arms CEO Mark Malkowski said Thursday that either South Carolina or Texas likely will be the new site for his firearms manufacturing business, and right now, it’s a tossup which will win.

If both end up nose-to-nose on facilities and workforce, he said, that final decision could come down to the incentives each offers.

He said he’s already talked incentives with Texas and didn’t say officials there have offered him any cash to move there. He did say that he’s been told about tax credits Texas gives for job creation, but South Carolina can give him the same deal.

He said he’ll make a decision about the move in the next month or two, and if it’s Horry County, his company will be the second Connecticut firearms manufacturer recently to favor South Carolina over Texas.

On Monday, top officials of Connecticut-based PTR Industries officially announced that their company will move to a shell building in the Cool Springs Industrial Park near Aynor. PTR will move its headquarters and all its manufacturing South.

Malkowski, though, now plans to open a new operation with new machinery wherever he decides to go, potentially moving the company’s entire operation to the new site. Thursday afternoon he was touring potential sites with state Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, and Brad Lofton and Brandon Sessions, both of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp.

They drove from lunch at the Second Avenue Pier to a county-owned, nine-acre site next to the Builders 1st Source facility at the Atlantic Center off U.S. 501.

There, Malkowski and Kevin Werner, a partner with Charleston’s Miller Valentine Group – a design/build construction firm – talked about putting a 50,000-square-foot to 60,000-square-foot building where there is now grass and a number of soccer goals.

Werner came armed with renderings of a couple of ideas for the exterior of the building. Malkowski asked him about a timetable for construction.

Werner said afterwards that Malkowski could get the basic building with air-conditioned offices for $50 to $60 a square foot. Things such as heavily-reinforced floors and interior climate-controlled areas would be extra.

Construction should take about six months.

Werner talked about a concrete building rather than a metal, warehouse type building such as the Builders 1st Choice facility. The concrete building may get better construction financing and insurance terms, he said, and would need only a coat of paint to look brand new after 20 years.

Malkowski said Stag Arms has gotten thousands of letters from people across the country urging him to move to their state. Some from Horry County included people seeking jobs, a situation similar to what PTR executives said they have experienced.

Also like PTR executives, Malkowski said Clemmons’ visit to Connecticut was important in his deliberations.

“It made a big difference,” he said. “It made a difference that someone reached out.”

Malkowski said he’s been very impressed with Horry County government.

“They’re extremely welcoming,” he said.

After looking over the Atlantic Center site and talking with Werner, Malkowski, Clemmons and Lofton boarded a helicopter for afternoon flyovers of other sites in North Myrtle Beach, Loris and Cool Springs and a visit to the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology in Florence, a high-tech training center that impressed PTR executives.

On Friday, the schedule includes nine holes of golf at the Dunes Club and lunch before Malkowski leaves for Connecticut.

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