Magpul's departure a 'hiccup' for Erie

9:29 PM, Jan 6, 2014   |    comments
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ERIE, Colo. - As the Colorado state legislature begins a new session Wednesday, the town of Erie is bracing for the fallout from last year's controversy over gun policy.

The Democratic majority in 2013 passed a ban on ammunition magazines that carry more than 15 rounds.

A local company that makes those magazines is getting ready to leave the state, and hence, Erie, because of it.

Whether you love or hate Colorado's new gun control laws, Magpul made its stance clear: the company wouldn't stay in a state that bans its product.

And it isn't.

Magpul says it will move its manufacturing plant to Wyoming and its headquarters to Texas, taking roughly 200 jobs out of the town of Erie.

With a population of a little more than 20,000, Magpul is one of Erie's biggest private employers.

Local business promoters are quick to point out that the company's beef is with the state-not Erie.

"This whole decision comes from the state level, this is something that was beyond the circumstances of the town of Erie," said Sandy Hutzley, a past president and current board member with the Erie chamber of commerce.

She says the biggest impact will be to the workers, who live all over the region, not just in Erie.

"We hate to see people being out of work, so we definitely hope that all those people are able to find jobs," Hutzley said.

Magpul declined an interview for this story.

Some employees, who didn't want to be identified, say they were told they'd have to re-apply for their jobs if they want to relocate with the company.

They tell 9NEWS that several employees have left for other jobs already and almost everyone who remains is looking to do the same.

Their future is unclear, but what about the future of Erie?

While Magpul has brought some attention to Erie, Hutzley says it's not a part of the town's identity.

"Magpul was a little hush-hush on being here, they weren't involved that much in the community," Hutzley said. "If you go to their website, it says, 'Boulder, Colorado,' not, 'Erie Colorado.'"

From a more practical standpoint, Hutzley predicts a minimal impact on the economy.

"The overall economy of Erie, I don't think it'll have a real effect," Hutzley said. "A hiccup at worst."

If Erie had to lose a major employer, the timing really couldn't be better for the town.

Erie is in a boom right now. The chamber of commerce reports 17 new companies joined its ranks in the final months of 2013.

The growth is immediately visible when driving into town in the form of new home construction at multiple developments.

Many of the homes sell before workers can finish framing them, and for the same reason companies pick Erie: low price and good location.

"We're in a central location to Boulder, to Denver, to up north Fort Collins," Hutzley said.

The more people who move here, the more jobs created in Erie to serve them.

"In the eight years I've been here, just to give you an idea of the growth, we've added four new elementary schools," Hutzley said.

Magpul won't finish its move for at least a year, giving the city plenty more time to shop for a new company to take the space.

That might not be a comfort to all the laid-off Magpul workers, but it could take some of the sting out of this for Erie.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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