GALLATIN, Tenn. - Groundbreaking was held Thursday morning for Italian gun-maker Beretta USA's new plant in Tennessee.
Governor Bill Haslam, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, and U.S. Representative Diane Black were joined by company and local officials at the site off Airport Road in Gallatin.
The company's COO said the new facility will include "advanced research and development" as well as all manufacturing.
The $45-million investment at the new facility will create 300 jobs. It is expected to open in mid-2015.
Beretta announced in January that it would build a new manufacturing and research facility in Gallatin. The city was chosen over 80 other sites in seven states.
Beretta's initial intention was the Gallatin plant would be only for new machinery and products. The company later announced in July that concerns over a strict gun-control law enacted in Maryland last year made it necessary to move all its weapons making from there to Tennessee.
"We believe that our brand as the State of Tennessee has taken on new luster because Beretta has chosen to locate here, and we are forever grateful,” Governor Haslam said during the groundbreaking.
Several states began wooing Beretta from Maryland after the gun-control measures were enacted there last year.
“Beretta’s decision to relocate to Gallatin shows that our state is right to have such strong laws upholding the Second Amendment, and is yet another sign that Tennessee is an ideal place for companies to invest," Senator Alexander said in a statement Thursday. "Beretta will put hundreds of Tennesseans to work in the new advanced manufacturing facility, and I look forward to the company’s future growth in Tennessee.”
On Wednesday, 160 local contractors signed up to hopefully help build the new facility.
"We make great guitars, great whiskey and great guns. All of those things are made in America, but they are perfected right here in Tennessee,” added Commissioner Bill Hagerty, with the Department of Economic and Community Development.
Beretta has operated in Italy since 1526. The family-owned company makes a variety of firearms, ranging from hunting shotguns to the U.S. Armed Forces M-9 pistol.
(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)