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Here’s what Springfield’s mayor said about Smith & Wesson’s decision to move its headquarters

"There is light at the end of the tunnel."

Trade show attendees examine handguns and rifles at the Smith & Wesson display booth at the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas. Julie Jacobson / AP

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno called Smith & Wesson’s decision to relocate its headquarters from his city to Tennessee “devastating news to the 550 employees and their families who will be losing their jobs.”

While the gun-making giant is still keeping over 1,000 jobs at its longtime Springfield facility, Sarno said in a statement that his “number one priority” is to assist those affected by the surprise announcement Thursday.

“I will be working with my staff and coordinating with state officials to discuss ways in which we can offer workforce placement assistance and/or retraining aspects to assist every one of these employees and their families,” the longtime Democratic mayor said Thursday. “In addition, we will continue to work with Smith & Wesson to retain the 1,000 remaining jobs here in Springfield.”

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Sarno said he had received assurances from Smith and & Wesson CEO Mark Smith that the company plans to keep those 1,000 jobs in Springfield.

The company said Thursday that it was consolidating its operation in Tennessee, closing smaller facilities in Connecticut and Missouri and relocating its headquarters from Massachusetts, where it has been based since 1852. While the company is keeping certain manufacturing operations in Springfield, its CEO said proposed legislation to ban the production of assault-style weapons in Massachusetts was the “primary catalyst” for the decision.

However, state Sen. Eric Lesser told Western Mass News that reasoning “doesn’t make much sense,” noting that the bill has “gone nowhere in previous sessions.”

In a statement announcing the move, Smith also cited Tennessee’s business-friendly environment, lower cost of living, and “favorable location for efficiency of distribution.”

The move will not begin until 2023 and will not have an impact on any jobs until then.

Smith says the company will “assist any affected employee who is willing and able to move [to Tennessee] with financial and logistical relocation assistance.”

“However, we also fully realize that this is simply not feasible for some,” he said.

Sarno said Thursday that his office had already begun talks with local, state, and regional partners about offering workforce placement or retraining help — including a job fair facilitated by the nearby Agawam manufacturer DFF — to the workers who will lose their jobs.

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“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Sarno said.

“My Administration will continue to work with Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, MassHire Executive Director Dave Cruise, Smith & Wesson President and CEO Mark Smith and our state Legislature so that not only are these 550 employees offered a fair opportunity that is best for their families but just as important, we will continue to work with Smith & Wesson to retain the 1,000 remaining jobs here in Springfield,” he added.

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