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Ilion residents concerned over Remington's out-of-state expansion

By ANNA MEILER

ILION, N.Y. (WKTV) - The announcement that Remington Outdoor Co. will expand to Huntsville, Ala., put residents on edge Monday because of the uncertainy of what it means for jobs locally.

The expansion will create 2,000 jobs in Alabama, but it isn't clear if those jobs will be created there or if some will be taken from the plant in Ilion.

Rep. Richard Hanna responded to the announcement Monday saying, "While we are awaiting definitive answers from the company, it is clear that Remington Arms has factories in several states throughout the U.S. The opening of a new plant in Alabama doesn't necessarily impact its Ilion plant or its ability to expand in Ilion."

But the Remington union president Fran Madore says the possibility of losing jobs here is absolutely a concern and even if that doesn't happen, the fact remains Ilion won't get the influx of jobs from an expansion.

"It's 2,000 jobs we could've used around here, but being a state that's not business friendly and anti-gun I think we shot ourselves in the foot," said Rodney Brown, who owns the State Bowling Center in Ilion.

The mayor of Ilion, Beth Neale says the uncertainty over Remington Arms future in Ilion started before the ink dried on Gov. Cuomo's Safe Act- tightening gun laws in New York following the Sandy Hook massacre. While disappointed by Remington Arm's decision to expand in Alabama, she says she can't blame them.

"They were courted by how many states? Twenty-six states maybe. I mean most of those states are states that are second amendment friendly. Let's face it New York, you know it's a different animal now," she said.

States that call themselves gun friendly have been trying to lure Remington from New York, making Ilion residents fear the heart of their economy would stop beating. But they say this announcement has hit them the hardest.

"It might deplete what we have built here. If we lose Remington Arms, we lose a lot of people. That's what we're built off of-Remington Arms," said Jesse Willoughby, an Ilion resident whose father has worked at Remington Arms for over four decades.

The CEO of Remington says the company expansion will bring jobs to the Huntsville area over a decade. Jobs may not be affected here immediately, but residents are left wondering about the future.

"They say that now but what are they going to do three or four years from now. How's it going to affect us? Asked Willoughby.

For this village, Remington Arms is more than the life-blood of their economy. It's their history.

"There's a million stories in those windows you see over there. A million good people have come and gone over 200 year's time and we'd like to keep them here. Remington is Ilion's," said Neale.

Madore also says that if Remington had built a new building on the Pumpkin Patch property in Frankfort, it would have meant not only a better facility, but a possible expansion with more jobs here at home. He's hopeful that will still happen in the future.

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