Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Politics

Young Republicans try to lure gun magazine maker to Hillsborough

TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Young Republicans organization wants to recruit a firearms accessories manufacturer planning to leave Colorado because of a new ban there on its high-capacity gun magazines.

"We need diversity of employment in Hillsborough County," Tampa Bay Young Republicans president Jonathan Torres said Monday.

Officials have done well at attracting financial sector and some tech company jobs, Torres said, but "we definitely need more of kind of your middle-class, blue collar-type jobs, and this fits perfectly into that scenario."

Magpul Industries of Boulder, Colo., says it will move its manufacturing operations out of Colorado because a new law banning magazines holding more than 15 rounds as of July 1. The company makes a half-dozen types of 20- or 30-round magazines and, a company executive has said, employs about 200 people.

"Based on the legal problems and uncertainties in the bill, as well as general principle, we will have no choice but to leave," the company wrote on its Facebook page in March. "We will start our transition out of the state almost immediately, and we will prioritize moving magazine manufacturing operations first."

That announcement has drawn interest from officials in Alaska, Indiana and Wyoming who want to welcome Magpul to their states. Now the Tampa Bay Young Republicans said it hopes Magpul will consider moving to Hillsborough County.

In a letter to the company, the group touts the shipping facilities available through the Port of Tampa, the county's culturally diverse workforce, the fact that Florida has no income tax and the ability of the bay area's beaches to draw many conferences and conventions.

Most important, the group said, are the area's connections to veterans and defense contractors through MacDill Air Force Base.

"This would not only further encourage responsible gun ownership, but it's also going to help with keeping of a lot of those folks who may work at MacDill and retire from the military and want to stay in Tampa Bay but aren't able to find these types of jobs that they can transition into," Torres said.

Along with members of the Young Republicans, the letter carries the names of Hillsborough Commission Chairman Ken Hagan and two GOP state representatives from Tampa, Dana Young and James Grant.

In a statement released through the Young Republicans, Grant called the bay area "a natural fit for Magpul Industries."

"Florida has a tremendous record of protecting Second Amendment rights and would welcome Magpul with open arms," he added.

Contacted for comment, Young issued a statement through her office saying she is "very supportive of any legitimate business that is interested in moving their operations to our state."

"A large business like Magpul would bring hundreds of jobs to our state, and job creation is our No. 1 priority," she said.

Torres said the Young Republicans had reached out to Gov. Rick Scott's office and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. about recruiting Magpul.

"I don't have any information for you about Magpul Industries," Enterprise Florida spokesman Sean Helton said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times. "Enterprise Florida currently has no economic development efforts underway to attract the company to the state."

EDC spokeswoman Jennifer Mikosky said in an email the agency's policy is not to respond to inquiries about active projects in Hillsborough, whether confirmed or speculative.

While the Tampa Bay Young Republicans has not taken on this kind of economic development issue before, Torres said "it touches on an issue that we feel very strongly about, which is the support of the Second Amendment, and also (goes to) the fact that we want to keep people in the area."

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