Italy-based ammunition manufacturer Fiocchi announced Tuesday (Nov. 15) it was building a second manufacturing facility in Little Rock that will employ 120 people.
The company announced it had selected a 281-acre site at the Port of Little Rock, where it will invest $41.5 million to produce primer, the bullet’s ignition compound and parts that ignite the gunpowder.
The primer will be for use by Fiocchi and also marketed to other brands. Gov. Asa Hutchinson noted that primer is needed by the U.S. military.
According to a Department of Commerce press release, the location will be one of six primer producers in the United States and the only lead-free one in the world. Fiocchi is the only manufacturer of lead-free primers that has received NATO qualification.
The company will begin construction in 2023 and expects first stage operation to begin in early 2025.
Hutchinson said he met with Fiocchi leadership regularly at the annual SHOT Show, the industry’s leading trade show, and he also visited the company’s facility in Italy. He said the company did receive state incentives to come to Arkansas. According to the Department of Commerce, Fiocchi qualified for the state’s Tax Back program, the Advantage Arkansas program, and $3 million from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund.
Maurizio Negro, Fiocchi Group CEO, said the environment in Arkansas is a good fit for the company’s culture, management style and strategy, which he said is “go premium; go green.”
“This is the second development we’re starting to create here, and it is not for sure the last one,” he said.
Fiocchi announced in July 2020 that it was investing $15 million in a manufacturing facility in Little Rock. It currently runs four shifts, Hutchinson said. The company in the past two years has acquired shotshell manufacturers Baschieri & Pellagr, Lyalvale Express, and a division of Arkansas-based Grandeur Fasteners. It has a manufacturing facility in Missouri.
Fiochhi evaluated five locations in three states before deciding on the Little Rock location. A box of ammunition displayed at the event featured photos taken in Arkansas.
Hutchinson was the first governor to attend the SHOT Show and has attended it every year of his administration. He told reporters afterwards he had focused on the firearms industry after seeing that manufacturers lacked support in the Northeast where they historically had been located. He decided Arkansas would compete with Southern states that would welcome those companies.
The governor noted that duck hunting season begins this weekend.
“It’s a natural fit for them, but everybody wants to be in a state where you’re wanted and you’re valued, and, you know, the culture of Arkansas is for the shooting sports, it’s for the outdoors,” he said.
Commerce Secretary Mike Preston said more than 500 economic development projects had been announced during Hutchinson’s administration, resulting in more than $14 billion in capital investments. He said 125,000 more Arkansans are working than when Hutchinson took office in 2015.
In his comments, newly re-elected Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott emphasized the importance of expanding the Little Rock Port, which is running out of space, and pledged to support its expansion in his second term.
Little Rock Port Authority Executive Director Bryan Day said in an interview the port has remaining about 1,000 acres it is holding for a supersite along with another 300 acres. The city of Little Rock has provided $16 million, which Day said could help it purchase another 800-1,000 acres, with the process starting in January.
Hutchinson afterwards told reporters that he is still considering running for president and will probably make his final decision in January. He said former President Donald Trump’s expected announcement this evening about his plans for 2024 will affect his decision and timing.
“Obviously with midterm elections over, a lot of attention now will focus on 2024, and I think I have something to offer, and we’ll see where that leads,” he said.
He said the results of Tuesday’s elections, where Republicans underperformed nationally, “reinforced my perspective. I said months ago that if we as candidates focus on the last election and the past, we’re not going to win, and that proved true with a number of candidates across the board on the Republican side. And so we’ve got to take that lesson, we’ve got to do better and get back to problem solving and fundamental values for our party, and we’ve got to focus on the future.”