I ran into Todd Vandermyde on the floor of the SHOT Show. For those outside of Illinois, Todd used to be the NRA’s lobbyist for the Illinois General Assembly until late 2017 and has his finger on the pulse of all things gun-related in the Prairie State. He is now the lobbyist for the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois.
Todd told me that both LMT (formerly Lewis Machine & Tool) and Armalite were in the process of leaving Illinois. LMT is based in Milan which is part of the Quad Cities section of Illinois and Iowa. They are planning to do like Les Baer and move across the Mississippi River into Iowa. Speaking with LMT at their booth, they said their move should be completed by about October 2018.
Armalite, now part of Strategic Armory Corp., now has less than 10 employees left in Illinois. For many years they had been in Geneseo which is only about 20 miles east of the Quad Cities (Moline, East Moline, Davenport, and Rock Island). Most of their operations are now in the Phoenix area of Arizona.
Just as Springfield, Massachusetts and the Hartford, Connecticut area have long had a large concentration of gun makers and are even called “Gun Valley”, so, too, the Quad Cities of Illinois. It is the home to the government’s Rock Island Arsenal and is still home to companies like Rock River Arms and Springfield Armory along with the ancillary parts and treating companies. Unfortunately, the politics in Illinois like that in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California are such that companies find that relocating is often their best option. Sadly, the ones most hurt by this are the workers and the local economies and not the politicians who live far away from these industrial centers.