BOISE — Employment in the firearms industry in Idaho has grown in recent years following a state initiative a decade ago, officials said.
While the state’s efforts to attract the industry have proved successful, gun and ammunition makers said business slowed last year, the Idaho Business Review reported last week.
The Idaho Department of Commerce began efforts to attract the industry in 2008 by promoting the state’s gun-friendly culture and business-friendly environment.
Industry employment in the state grew by nearly 40 percent from 2012 to 2017, said Megan Hill, a spokeswoman for the department. The industry grew by about 20 percent across the country during the same period, she said.
The state reported about 1,600 firearms and ammunition jobs last year.
Following the promotions by the state, several firearms companies moved in, including Next Generation Arms in 2010, Caracal USA in 2014, Advantage Arms in 2015 and Nemo Arms in 2016, Hill said.
“None of these companies received any incentives,” she said.
Some companies have reported declining sales and a few layoffs, citing a challenging retail environment and other market pressures.
“We did see a downtick with the most recent presidential election,” said Jeff Hoskinson, director of sales and marketing for MGM Targets in Caldwell.
Hoskinson said business is still good, but the industry is tied to the political environment. Gun buyers had lost a sense of urgency to make purchases, he said.
The industry as a whole experienced a decline last year, said JR Shepard, CEO of Lone Wolf Distributors in Priest River. The buying public became lethargic, but sales are improving, he said. Sales stabilized in January and have increased during the last couple of months, he said.
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