Winchester's new Oxford plant opens

By The Associated Press

OXFORD — Gov. Haley Barbour and officials with the Olin Corp., the parent of Winchester, cut the ribbon Wednesday on the new Centerfire ammunition manufacturing operations in Oxford.

About 1,000 people are expected to eventually be employed at the Centerfire plant when it reaches its production capacity over the next five years.

The facility will produce small caliber pistol and rifle ammunition for commercial, law enforcement and military customers.

“It is great to be in Oxford celebrating the opening of the Winchester Centerfire operations less than a year after Olin officials announced they were bringing 1,000 jobs to Mississippi,” Barbour said. “I appreciate the commitment by Olin and the support provided by the Mississippi Development Authority, Lafayette County and the city of Oxford to bring Winchester Centerfire here.”

Thomas J. O’Keefe, president of Olin Corporation’s Winchester Division, said the state-of-the-art facility will allow the company to better serve its customers.

The decision to move the Centerfire plant from East Alton, Ill., to Oxford was announced in November 2010. Ground was broken Jan. 24 for the construction of the new 500,000-square-foot plant in the North Oxford Industrial Park. The first equipment for the new plant arrived in August.

The hiring of the first 200 to 250 employees is under way.