By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – On a vote of 4-1, the state’s Executive Council approved issuance of up to $33.1 million in bonds to allow weapons manufacturer Sig Sauer to expand at its facility in Rochester, after approving a similar bond in 2020 for $21 million.
James Key-Wallace of the Business Finance Authority said the money would allow the company to hire 250 more people and that the product which would be made there would be to provide firearms for the U.S. military.
He said it was not a taxpayer subsidy or taxpayer loan.
But Executive Councilor David Wheeler of Milford, a Republican, said he opposed it, although he said he liked their product.
“I will be voting ‘no’ because I don’t believe I have the Constitutional authority to put the taxpayers on the hook,” Wheeler said.
Key-Wallace noted that the request is to help the company fulfill its contract to support the nation’s men and women overseas.
He said the product is “100 percent for military-only” and would add to the 300 jobs created from the last request and of the $21 million from the last round, it is now paid down to $12 million in two years when it has a 10-year horizon.
Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington of Concord, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, asked if the company was in complete compliance with all its loans with the BFA and she was assured it was. She also asked if there was parent company backing and that the request was to meet its contract with the U.S. government.
Key-Wallace standing with Bobby Cox, vice president for public affairs for Sig Sauer, said “yes.”
Republican Executive Councilor Janet Stevens of Rye said “this is supporting military readiness and that as a mother of a U.S. Marine “I wish that he would be able to have access to this” product.
Executive Councilor Joe Kenney of Wakefield, a Republican, thanked Sig Sauer for its investment in Rochester saying it has helped with creating high paying jobs and expanding manufacturing.
Michael Strand of Bedford was among two who spoke during a public hearing, including Joe Haas. Strand said while he was initially concerned with the request, he felt he could support it as the country faces uncertain times and a need for preparedness.
This is money to build a 27,700 square foot addition to its existing 89,000 square foot manufacturing facility at 7 Amarosa Drive. It will also be used to improve the parking and general layout of the facility.
Enterprise Bank and Trust Co. is involved in the transaction.
The proposed resolution states that this second, unconditional state guarantee “will preserve the social or economic prosperity of the state and one or more of its political subdivisions and will promote the general welfare of the state’s citizens.”
The loan rate is set at 4.3 percent for the term for 86 months.
Similar to the last loan the BIA will purchase the building space and lease it back to Sig Sauer and the BFA will float a taxpayer backed bond, giving the gun manufacturer a tax benefit as an incentive to help create new jobs.
In October, 2020 it claimed that the $21 million state backed bond would help them create 150 new jobs and relocate about 150 other workers from Dover.