Magpul Industries announced a mega-deal to supply ammunition magazines to the Marines last week, a boon for Cheyenne and a loss for Colorado.
Magpul, one of the country's largest producers of ammunition magazines and other accessories, left Colorado in protest of the state's 2013 gun laws that limited the size of magazines to 15 rounds.
In 2013, when Democrats controlled the state House, Senate and governor's office, Colorado passed a 15-round limit as a measure to curb mass shootings, particularly in the wake of the 2012 Aurora theater assault that left 12 people dead and more than 70 wounded. Among James Holmes' weapons was a semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine.
The political and legal fallout came swiftly. Gun rights supporters recalled two legislators and another resigned. State sheriffs sued in vain to block the law. The economic cost is still adding up.
Magpul moved its production, distribution and shipping operations to Cheyenne and its headquarters to Texas last year. Besides principle, the move was fueled by cash - the Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board ponied up $8.3 million
At the time the deal closed in September 2014, the Wyoming Business Council said Magpul would pay back about $3.7 million, but Laramie County, Wyo., stood to gain another $14.3 million in taxes, income off leases and other benefits from growing its workforce.
Magpul took about 100 employees out of Colorado in early 2015. When the gun law was passed in 2013, it had about 200 workers in a 100,000-square-foot in Erie. The payroll has since grown to 380 and added a second shift in 185,000-square-foot facility in Cheyenne.
The dollar value of the contract with the Marine Corps was not estimated by Magpul or the U.S. Department of Defense, but it promises to be lucrative. Magpul will be the exclusive provider for magazines Marines carry into combat.
Frustration was in the voice of Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham Tuesday.
"My take is there is no big surprise here," said the Republican leader from Canon City. "You tell a company they can't sell a product in your state, when it's a good product and a popular product. They move across the state line, they get a lot of support and they get a big contract. We lost not only the jobs they had when they were here, we lost the jobs they've grown into since and we're losing all the jobs they're going to grow into in future years with this contract.
"Once you have the Marine contract, I don't see how the other branches won't follow suit eventually. That's a massive, massive contract just a short distance down the road. We lost that."
On the other hand?
"What good did this gun law do? Not a blasted bit," Grantham said.