Last Friday, we talked about Erie-based gun magazine manufacturer Magpul's announcement that they intend to move most of their manufacturing jobs out of Colorado in the next 12-16 months. Allegedly in retaliation for the passage last year of House Bill 1224, legislation restricting the sale of gun magazines with a capacity over 15 rounds, coverage of Magpul's impending departure in the Denver Post failed to mention a key component of the story: millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded incentives to offset the cost of moving to other states.
Reviewing this story over the weekend, there is one additional detail regarding Magpul and financial incentives to move out of Colorado that we think every Colorado voter reading this story should understand. Magpul was threatening Colorado economic development authorities with incentives from Wyoming and Texas–the very same states Magpul is now slated to move to–a year before the gun safety legislation Magpul cites as their reason for moving were introduced. As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reported last March during the legislative debate over the bills:
FOX31 Denver has confirmed that Magpul had discussions last year [2012--Pols] with the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade in which they asked about tax incentives and credits that might be available to them as they looked to consolidate their two facilities into a single space at North Park in Broomfield.
“They wanted some state support,” said Kathy Green, OEDIT’s spokeswoman. “We had some job training credits available but there was never any follow-up.”
According to Green, job training incentives would have been available only if the company was adding new jobs.
Last summer, Fitzpatrick reportedly told the governor’s office and Sam Bailey, the business development manager from OEDIT who toured Magpul’s facility, that Texas and Wyoming had lots of incentives for them should the company decide to relocate. [Pols emphasis]
“That was not a threat. We never made any threat to leave,” Doug Smith, Magpul’s Chief Operating Officer, told FOX31 Denver late Thursday afternoon. “We were just mentioning, hey, these other states have approached us, this is something they offer.”
Particularly in light of Magpul's subsequent decisions, it's absurd to suggest that the company mentioning "lots of incentives" available from Wyoming and Texas back in 2012 was not intended to spur a better incentive package from Colorado officials. Of course it was a "threat," and the only question is how implied or overt it was. The millions of dollars Magpul is getting from the state of Wyoming to build a huge new custom manufacturing plant may well have justified their decision to move without the gun safety legislation passed in Colorado last year. Those bills were used by Magpul to panic-sell thousands of high capacity magazines ahead of the new law taking effect, but that can't exactly be called a hardship for the company either. Remember, nothing in House Bill 1224 stops Magpul from manufacturing high capacity magazines in Colorado.
Wouldn't it be great if a reporter would connect these dots in a news story? How much sympathy would Magpul still have if this had been reported along with the announcement they are leaving the state?
Because there's a real possibility that Magpul has been playing Colorado for suckers this whole time.