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Potlatch went public in April with its come-hither pitch to gun makers.

“We’ve had two nibbles already, and we haven’t even tried,” Mr. Swanson said.

Mr. Swanson acknowledged that gun manufacturers would not be welcomed everywhere. Even in Latah County, they might face opposition 15 miles away in liberal Moscow, where the University of Idaho is based.

“In Potlatch, they would be welcomed with open arms,” Mr. Swanson said. “I have not heard a single person in Potlatch saying, ‘We don’t want them here.’”

Mr. White agreed: “If we proposed this in Seattle or Portland, I’m sure it would be entirely different. For Potlatch, Idaho, this makes absolute sense.”

The idea is to create a niche, like guns, and then recruit a cluster of companies to fill it, Mr. White said. In nearby Dayton, Wash., Mr. White is helping develop an organic food retail and business park to cash in on the tourists who visit the farm town.

Potlatch was created in 1905 to provide homes for the 500 workers at the Potlatch Lumber Co. mill. Nineteen of the homes built by the company are on the National Register of Historic Places, and City Hall used to be the mill headquarters. The mill closed in 1981, and no major business activity has emerged to replace the lumber jobs.

But Potlatch didn’t shrivel up. Located a short distance from the university towns of Moscow and Pullman, Wash., Potlatch became a bedroom community for workers and students at both schools. Busy state Highway 6 serves as the main street through the town, and the small business community actually has trouble finding workers, said Dale Spring, owner of Dale’s Wagon Wheel Bar & Grill.

Mr. Spring wonders where the workers would come from for any new firearms factory.

“There’s no labor force,” he said.

Many Potlatch residents work at the universities or at one of the thriving private sector employers in the Moscow-Pullman area, he said.

Local economic development leaders believe good-paying jobs will draw workers.

The lure for manufacturers is the former lumber mill site, of which 26 acres is set aside for firearms and related companies, Mr. White said. The mill site is currently without buildings but has nearby utilities and is flat, and the town has plenty of water and sewer capacity, Mr. Swanson said.

Nationally, there has been a big jump in the popularity of target shooting, largely the result of a slew of television programs on that subject, Mr. White said. They expect Potlatch’s plan to appeal to some of those people, he said.

The marketing effort is funded by Potlatch Corp., which still owns the mill site, by local utility Avista, and by local city and county governments.

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