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Once-Booming Timber Town Looks to Firearms, Ammo

Once-Booming Timber Town Looks to Firearms, Ammo

The once-booming timber mill town of Potlatch, ID, is following the lead of other communities across the state by launching a vigorous new effort to attract firearms and ammunition manufacturers to locate there and bring good, high-paying jobs to the region.

Inspired by the recent relocation of ammunition maker PNW Arms, civic leaders in this former timber town of fewer than 1,000 residents are hoping to attract additional gun and ammo manufacturers to its expansive former mill site and other locations in the area, while touting the state's well-advertised "firearms friendly" business atmosphere.

"Idaho is a firearms-friendly state," Potlatch Mayor David Brown told the Spokane Spokesman-Review this week. "I realize that it will take some time and money to happen, but it's a beautiful dream and I believe so strongly that it will happen."

The 145-acre site mill that straddles the Palouse River has been vacant since 1981, when Potlatch Corp. closed the town's namesake mill. Separate architectural and engineering firms have been hired to create a design for the mill and site, where planners are hoping to attract several firearms and shooting-industry firms.

In 2009 a grant from the Idaho Department of Commerce helped create an association dedicated to attracting and supporting firearms and accessories manufacturers in the state. The primary goal of the Idaho Firearms and Accessories Manufacturers Association, Inc. is to provide economic development tools, networking and partnering opportunities for those affiliated with the firearms industry in Idaho.

For the past several years, Idaho economic representatives have attended gun-industry trade shows and other events to spread the word about its firearms friendly business atmosphere.

"They say that it's a welcoming environment and the lack of harassment, I guess, you know the government intrusion," says the Idaho Commerce Department's Bibiana Nertney. "I mean just face it, there are some states that are not friendly to firearms manufacturing companies."

Among other things, Idaho's state constitution protects firearms manufacturers from special taxation and limits liability lawsuits "relating to the design, manufacture, marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public."

That's why Potlatch civic leaders and other like-minded citizens across Idaho think they have a great shot at becoming the future home of some of the world's leading gunmakers and ammunition manufacturers.

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