Lafayette County could add 1,000 jobs

OXFORD – Lafayette County could get a huge employment boost, but it would come at the expense of workers in Illinois.
On Thursday, the East Alton Telegraph said ammunition maker Winchester, a division of Olin Corp., may be moving its Centerfire ammunition operation and 1,000 workers to Oxford from its East Alton plant.
A spokeswoman told the newspaper that the company is talking to union representatives about the move.
The company has six unions that represent workers at the plant, and any transfer of operations could take five to six years to complete, Olin spokeswoman Valerie Peters told the St. Louis Business Journal.
Winchester already has a presence in Oxford. In 2004, the company moved its RImfire ammunition manufacturing operations here, bringing 150 jobs.
The Oxford plant, which opened in 2005, manufactures .22-caliber ammunition and industrial power tools.
Winchester also moved its military packing operations from East Alton to Oxford in 2008. The plant now employs about 300 people.
Maxx Hipp, the president and CEO of the Oxford/Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation, declined to say if there had been any talks with WInchester about a Centerfire move.
“We work closely with state officials to retain and support our existing industry and business,” he said. “However, we cannot comment on what may or may not be an ongoing economic development project.”
Sally Williams, a spokeswoman with the Mississippi Development Authority, the state’s lead economic development agency, issued a similar statement.
Olin Corp. last month reported second quarter net income of $16.9 million, a 39 percent drop from $27.8 million recorded a year earlier. Sales, however, rose nearly 6 percent, from $383 million to $405.7 million.
The company has two major business segments – Chlor Alkali and Winchester.
In the second quarter, Winchester’s earnings were the second-best in its history, with strong sales from commercial, military and law enforcement customers. Winchester posted $21.1 million in earnings on sales of $147.7 million.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal