To people in the firearms industry, the annual SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show in Las Vegas is the National Finals Rodeo, the Super Bowl and Woodstock all rolled into one event. More than 65,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries will be on hand at the Jan. 20-23 event, including a number of people from the Black Hills' own firearms manufacturing firms and economic development groups.
shot-show.jpgIt's a little-known fact that western South Dakota has become a magnet for the industry. Home-grown firms such as Black Hills Bullets and Ultramax Ammunition, and transplants such as H.S. Precision and CorBon have flourished in the Rushmore Region.
One of the biggest reasons for the firearms industry's success in the Rushmore Region: State and local government have created a tax structure and regulatory environment that nurtures, not restricts, the business of firearms.
"We moved from Michigan to Sturgis, S.D., in 1995 after looking at several other states. We chose Sturgis, SD because of the friendly Firearms and Ammunition climate and tax structure. I like to say that in South Dakota you get to keep what you make," said Peter Pi Sr., president of CorBon. "The workforce has been outstanding and most of my key employees that started with us in 1995 are still with us. We have several technical schools we can draw skilled labor from. It was by far the best business decision I have ever made, and I have not looked back."
That's why the SHOT Show is an important venue for the Rushmore Region Economic Development Alliance. “People in the firearms and ammunition industry are very receptive to our message: less regulation, less red tape, less taxes, less trouble,” said Pat Kurtenbach, president of the Sturgis Economic Development Corp. She will be among several South Dakotans attending the SHOT Show.
"We know that here and elsewhere in South Dakota, hunting and other outdoor sports are a way of life. Many days are spent enjoying our state’s natural beauty and amenities, whether we are hunting, fishing, camping or hiking. Our love for the outdoors and longstanding passion for hunting has cultivated a responsible gun-friendly culture," she added. "We also know that South Dakota has one of the top business climates in the nation. No other state can offer companies our unique tax structure and favorable regulatory environment, so it only makes sense for us to lure companies that share our values here to do business."
Statewide, in 2014, there were 80 companies in the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry doing business in South Dakota. These companies range from manufacturing firearms and firearms components, to hunting and fishing accessories, to archery materials, among other products.