Second Horry County gun manufacturer prepares to start building

Now that one gun manufacturer has opened its doors in Horry County, the focus turns to a second firearm maker that's pledged to build here.

Ithaca Gun Company will be expanding its product line and building a facility from the ground up on the Grand Strand.

What is now trees, grass and mud will become, before the end of 2014, Ithaca's 20,000 square foot manufacturing facility at the Cool Springs Business Park near Aynor.

It'll be next door to PTR Industries, the area's first gun maker that's just getting started in its new facility.

Ithaca will employ around 80 to 100 people, mostly doing what the company has always done.

"Some of the weapons that they're going to making here they've been making for a long time, but they're going to also be introducing a new product and then developing a whole a barrel line, not just for Ithaca but for other manufacturers," said Brad Lofton, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp.

Ithaca expects to be up and running in Horry County by the beginning of 2015.

Lofton says, unlike PTR, which moved its entire production to Horry County, Ithaca's headquarters will remain in Sandusky, Ohio.

The Cool Springs plant will be a separate division, so only a handful of Ithaca employees will make the move.

"We expect them to probably bring maybe a couple, 2 or 3 (employees), but the vast majority of these will be local hires," Lofton said.

Those local hires will earn about $16 to $18 an hour, Lofton says, with some technicians making more than $20 an hour.

Lofton and other local officials will be in Las Vegas this week for the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show, the nation's largest gun industry show, where they will tout Horry County as a good place for gun makers to relocate.

"We've had other people in the industry point us toward other CEOs that are in that line of work that would like to consider the Myrtle Beach area, so I think you'll see maybe at least another announcement this year," Lofton said.

Lofton says he's still in contact with officials at Stag Arms, another gun maker that's considering a move to Horry County, and with a few gun industry suppliers, who are looking to make a move.