Firearms manufacturer Weatherby, Inc. plans to relocate its manufacturing operations and corporate headquarters from California to Sheridan, company officials and Gov. Matt Mead announced Tuesday.

An estimated 70-90 jobs are expected to be created, with over $5 million annually in payroll in the next five years, according to a news release from the Wyoming Business Council.

The Council worked with the Sheridan Economic and Education Development Authority Joint Powers Board to develop a grant package of $12.6 million. The Authority committed nearly $2.3 million in local match funds, with over $300,000 of that in cash. The non-cash funds represents an in-kind match for Lot 1 in the Sheridan High-Tech Business Park.

The Joint Powers Board will use the money to build a 100,000 square-foot building in the business park. The Authority will own the building and lease it to Weatherby.

The company is expected to invest roughly $2 million in relocation expenses and cover all capital investment in the building and lot over the life of the 20-year lease, which is expected to top $4 million.

"We wanted a place where we could retain a great workforce, and where our employees could live an outdoor lifestyle," company CEO Adam Weatherby said. "We wanted to move to a state where we can grow into our brand. Wyoming means new opportunities. We are not interested in maintaining; we are growing."

Mead said in the statement that he and the Council started recruiting Weatherby a year ago.

"For over 70 years, Weatherby has been an innovator in firearms design and manufacturing. The company will add to our manufacturing base and fit well with our diversification objectives," Mead added.

Mead's support and accessibility, Weatherby said, is a major asset for a company operating in a highly-regulated industry.

"From the get go, when we met the governor, he said, 'Here's my number, shoot me a text any time," Weatherby said. "He responds to our needs quickly, and it shows a business like ours is important to Wyoming and that it's a big deal here."

Shawn Reese, the Council's chief executive officer, says the move combines the outdoor recreation -- an economic driver in Wyoming -- with manufacturing, which is important in any economy.

"So, to bring those two things together -- an internationally-known manufacturer of outdoor equipment headquartered in Wyoming -- it will pay dividends, not only to Sheridan and northeast Wyoming, but this is a project of which the entire state should be proud," Reese said.

"We're extremely excited to have this internationally-recognized company choose Sheridan as their new corporate headquarters," Sheridan Mayor Roger Miller said. "This relocation will translate to more skilled manufacturing jobs, an increased tax base and important economic diversification for our community and the region."

The Council says Sheridan stood out to Weatherby executives because of its access to both the outdoors and a skilled workforce.

"There are a lot of great places in Wyoming, but Sheridan stood out as a New West community that's progressive and growing, with a vibrant downtown in the shadow of the Bighorns and a mild climate," Weatherby said. "Sheridan College, which is growing its manufacturing and machine tool program, was also a deciding factor."

Dr. Paul Young, president of Sheridan College, pointed to the state's recruitment of Weatherby as an example of the work necessary to diversify Wyoming's economy.

"This is the direct result of ears and years of visioning, planning and strategically investing in the things that matter for the future of our region," Young said. "With the help of Whitney Benefits and others, we have been strengthening and growing our technical programs for this very reason, and we will continue to provide opportunities for students to learn valuable skills to secure a solid future."

Weatherby was found in 1945 by Adam Weatherby's grandfather, Roy. It is owned and operated by the family, and has been headquartered in Paso Robles, California.

"Our product is the main tool hunters use out in the field. They may spend a lifetime trying to draw a tag or save for the hunt of their dreams, and we keep that foremost in our minds when we are building our guns," Weatherby said. "This is an aspiration product; these are guns that are passed down from generation to generation."


Video by Wyoming Business Council.