The Thomaston (GA) Times is reporting that Beretta was scouting central Georgia as a potential spot for relocation. The Thomaston-Upson Industrial Development Authority had reported last week that a prospect codenamed Project Clover had toured the area and the Central Georgia Business and Technology Park. They confirmed it was a firearms company.
Later in a joint meeting between the Upson County commissioners and town councils for Thomaston and Yatesville, the head of the county commission said the Project Clover was actually Beretta.
During a joint meeting of the Upson County Board of Commissioners (BOC) and the Thomaston and Yatesville city councils Tuesday night, Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston and Mayor Hays Arnold, both members of TUIDA, told the crowd the potential industry is Beretta Firearms.
“We had a very good prospect that, in my impression, is very interested in Upson County,” said Blackston. “They said we could go ahead and make it known to the public who they are. Beretta Firearms is looking to move to Upson County, which would be an impact of approximately 400 to 450 jobs on startup. That would put us on the global market.”
“Let’s make it clear, they have not decided on Thomaston-Upson County,” cautioned Arnold. “But, we are extremely high-ranking on their list at this point in time.”
The executive director of the TUIDA, Kyle Fletcher, said that Beretta was given an overview of the community on everything ranging from healthcare to the new fine arts auditorium. She especially emphasized the employee training opportunities offered through Southern Crescent Technical College’s Training Facility. According to their website, the college does offer programs in CNC Technology and Machine Tool Technology.
Thomaston and Upson County are located almost in the middle of a triangle formed by Atlanta to the north, Macon to the east, and Columbus to the west.
It should be pointed out that even if Beretta does open operations in Georgia they are not likely to stop production for the foreseeable future in Maryland despite that state’s laws. Jeff Reh has stated many times that Beretta has certain obligations to the US military for production of the M9 pistol that would be disrupted if they moved that plant. Beretta has also stated that with the passage of Maryland’s new gun laws that they shelved any plans for expansion of the Accokeek plant.
It was long thought that Beretta would probably do any expansion near their existing operations in Spotsylvania, Virginia. However, plans for a Virginia Railway Express station and a mixed-use development which are adjacent to the Spotsylvania operation have caused Beretta to look elsewhere.
(Jeff) Reh said he understands why Spotsylvania officials chose that site for the VRE station, and why they approved the mixed-use development. But he said Beretta doesn’t want to expand in an area that will be densely populated.
He said the company doesn’t plan to close its existing distribution center but is looking elsewhere for an expansion that could mean a $10 million investment and 50 new jobs.
Reh didn’t offer specifics about the expansion, but according to a letter he wrote to Spotsylvania officials in 2011, the company has plans for a new facility for “the manufacturing of industrial components and testing, either below ground or above ground, of firearms manufactured by Beretta U.S.A. Corp.”
Reh said the company is looking for about 100 acres for the expansion and is considering sites in seven states with laws friendly to firearms manufacturers and the Second Amendment: Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas. He said he was looking at sites in the Warrenton area this week and has met previously with Caroline County officials.
West Virginia would have been on the list except for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).