Gun manufacturer Beretta USA broke ground on its new manufacturing plant in Gallatin Thursday morning.
CEO Jeff Cooper said this will be the new home for advanced research and development.
"This advanced research and development department will be critical in how we accelerate our new products and our new product plans to support our military, our law enforcement and our civilian customers," Cooper said.
The plant is part of a $45 million investment that is expected to create several hundred jobs.
"We made the right decision to choose Gallatin as our new home," Cooper said.
Gov. Bill Haslam was joined by dozens of officials from Tennessee, Gallatin and Beretta, the oldest active gun manufacturer in the world.
The new facility will boast 130,000 square feet of manufacturing space and another 12,000 square feet of office space. The production plant will manufacture new gun lines that will require a highly skilled workforce.
"We'll also take this opportunity to redesign and re-engineer our lean manufacturing practices to surely make this Beretta facility in Gallatin, TN world-class," Cooper said.
"The average salary for the Beretta organization is $41,000," said Jo Ann Graves, mayor of Gallatin. "They do research and development. They're precision craftsmen. These are skilled jobs. These are jobs that offer a future to people in these areas."
The Beretta team toured seven states and 80 different sites before ultimately choosing Gallatin. They said Tennessee's support of the Second Amendment played a large role.
"This is a state of sportsmen and sportswomen," Sen. Lamar Alexander said. "We have 900,000 Tennesseans with hunting and fishing licenses. We have 450,000 people with concealed carry permits."
Supporters donned a lapel pin of the Tennessee and Italian flags blended to symbolize the partnership between the state and the 500-year-old Italian company.
Construction on the plant, which is being built at the Gallatin Industrial Center off Airport Road, is expected to begin next month.