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Smith & Wesson to Add 225 Jobs in Springfield; Net Sales Rise Slightly
SPRINGFIELD — In the third quarter, Smith & Wesson made the strategic decision to relocate its Thompson/Center Arms operations from Rochester, N.H. to the company’s facility here. Approximately 225 jobs are expected to be added to the local economy with the Rochester relocation initiative. This relocation is designed to provide the company with increased operational efficiencies through the optimization of the company’s manufacturing footprint and increased synergies generated in fixed, marketing, and administrative costs. The bulk of the $9 million of estimated cash outlays associated with the relocation will occur in the second half of fiscal 2011, and those outlays are expected to be recovered in approximately 24 months. The relocation is scheduled to commence in January and conclude by November 2011. In other news, Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. recently announced that total net sales of $96.3 million for the second quarter decreased $13.4 million, or 12.2%, from net sales of $109.7 million for the comparable quarter last year. Indications are that the consumer firearm market has moderated further following the significant increase that started in the company’s third quarter of fiscal 2009. In the second fiscal quarter of this year, sales in all handgun and tactical rifle product lines, except premium products, were flat or lower than in the prior year quarter due to a more competitive environment and a trend toward more value-oriented products. Hunting products were the exception and increased 26.3% over the prior year’s comparable quarter on improved sales of black-powder products and the company’s new bolt-action rifles.

AIM Index Off in November, Retains Most Gains
BOSTON — The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index lost 3.2 points in November to 52.1, but held on to most of the gains from its record 7.7-point rise in October. The sub-indices based on selected questions or respondent characteristics all lost ground in November, though most gave back less than half of their October gains. The current index of conditions prevailing at the time of the survey was off 2.6 points at 50.6, while the future index of expected conditions six months ahead dropped 3.5 to 53.5. Andre Mayer Sr., vice president of communications and research for AIM, noted that employers are disappointed by the pace of recovery and are aware of considerable risk in the economy, but see conditions slowly improving and expect improvement to continue over the next six months. The Massachusetts Index of business conditions prevailing within the Commonwealth fell 2.6 points to 47.5, remaining above the U.S. Index of national conditions, which lost 5.8 (after a 12.3-point gain in October) to 43.0. On the year, the state indicator was up 9.0, its national counterpart up 6.3. Mayer added that survey respondents have rated the state’s economic climate better than the nation’s through this downturn and recovery. The monthly Business Confidence Index is based on a survey of AIM member-companies across Massachusetts, asking questions about current and prospective business conditions in the state and nation, as well as for respondents’ own operations. On the index’s 100-point scale, a reading above 50 indicates that the state’s employer community is predominantly optimistic, while a reading below 50 indicates a negative assessment of business conditions.

UMass Trustee Chairman Steps Down
AMHERST — University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees Chairman Robert J. Manning stepped down as the leader of the 22-person UMass governance board on Dec. 8, saying it would be beneficial for the university to have new leadership as it enters a period of transition. Manning noted in a statement that the university is “embarking on a transition phase” that is significant to UMass, and as his term winds down at the end of this academic year, he cannot sign up for another five years. Manning, who has served as chairman of the board for three years, noted of his tenure, “it’s been a remarkable experience for me.” Manning added that he was stepping down from the chairmanship and from the board effective immediately. Gov. Deval Patrick will appoint the next chairman, according to Manning.

Poll: Strong Support for Resort Casino
PALMER — A recent public-opinion poll commissioned by Northeast Realty Associates and conducted by Market Street Research of Northampton shows overwhelming support for the establishment of a resort-style casino destination on acreage across from the Mass. Turnpike entrance on Route 32. The survey, conducted in mid-November, indicates 64.8% of Palmer residents support the development of a resort-style casino on land owned by Northeast Realty, while 30.3% are opposed with 4.9% undecided. Mohegan Sun currently holds a 99-year ground lease with Northeast to develop the property into a destination resort casino should gaming become legalized in Massachusetts. Earlier this year, the state House and Senate passed legislation calling for three resort casinos in the state, stipulating one of the venues for Western Mass. While final agreement on the legislation is stalled, Gov. Deval Patrick has consistently supported the development of three resort-style gaming venues, including a Western Mass. destination.

Spalding Hoophall Classic Teams Named
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College’s Blake Arena will be setting for the 10th annual Spalding Hoophall Classic Jan. 14-17, representing 46 teams from 17 states. The nation’s premier high school event will showcase its strongest field in its history with elite matchups including Dallas Lincoln High School (Dallas, TX) vs. Findlay College Prep (Henderson, NV), Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, VA) vs. Milton High School (Milton, GA), and St. Patrick High School (Elizabeth, NJ) vs. Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas, NV). Numerous games from the 2011 Spalding Hoophall Classic will be televised nationally. Other programs scheduled to participate include DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, MD), Christ the King High School (Middle Village, NY), St. Thomas More School (Oakdale, CT), and St. Anthony High School (Jersey City, NJ), coached by Bob Hurley, Sr., who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in August. The 2011 event continues its tradition of talented players by featuring more than 20 of the ESPNU’s Top 100 in the class of 2011.

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