Winchester Fires Off Expansion To Miss. Plant

The company's Centerfire ammunition manufacturing operations in Oxford will utilize?1,000 employees when it reaches full capacity.

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- Winchester officials haven't wasted any time in the expansion of the company's Centerfire ammunition manufacturing operations in Oxford.

The Oxford Eagle reports ( Gov. Haley Barbour will join Winchester representatives on Wednesday for a private ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the 500,000-square-foot plant.

About 1,000 people are expected to eventually be employed at the Centerfire plant when it reaches its production capacity over the next five years. The facility will produce small caliber pistol and rifle ammunition for commercial, law enforcement and military customers.

The company is no stranger to Oxford. Its parent company, Olin Corp., moved its Winchester Rimfire operations here in 2003 and its military packaging operations shortly afterward. Combined, the two operations employ about 350 workers.

The decision to move the Centerfire plant from East Alton, Ill., to Oxford was announced in November 2010. Ground was broken Jan. 24 for the construction of the new 500,000-square-foot plant in the North Oxford Industrial Park. The first equipment for the new plant arrived in August.

The hiring of the first 200 to 250 employees is well under way with many new employees having already begun training and working in the new facility.

"We're happy to be as far along in the process as we are now," said Winchester spokeswoman Valerie Peters.