Two Grand Rapids area companies—Borisch Manufacturing and Eaton Aerospace—were awarded military contracts in May. The $149,000 combined total of these contracts was the smallest amount received by local companies since Media Mouse began tracking the contracts in February.
The electronics company Borisch Manufacturing and the aerospace company Eaton Aerospace received a combined total of $149,511 in military contracts during the month of May according to research conducted for Media Mouse’s Military Contracts database that tracks military contracts awarded to companies in the Grand Rapids area. This is the smallest number of contracts awarded since the database began in February when $2.6 million in contracts were awarded and an amount significantly smaller than the $9.1 million awarded in April.
The following contracts were awarded in May:
As has been the case with most military contracts awarded to companies in the Grand Rapids area, the contracts received no media coverage. However, during the month the local media did cover a contract awarded to Nartron Corporation, a company located north of Grand Rapids in Reed City. Nartron Corporation was awarded a $3,958,586.97 contract to upgrade the electronic engine start systems used on Army Humvees. The start system will be installed on all current and future Humvees—a vehicle that is used extensively in Iraq. The coverage given to the contract announcement was brief, with the Grand Rapids Press running a paragraph about it on a side column on the front of the “Business” section and WOOD TV 8 running a short story from the AP. The WOOD TV 8 piece never said the amount of the contract and instead simply emphasized the expansion to Nartron and the 100 new jobs that the company says will be filled immediately to perform the work. Neither story looked at the role of the Humvee in the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, nor did they explore larger questions about the military-industrial complex.
Borisch Manufacturing, a local electronics company that frequently sells weapons components to the United States military, received tax breaks from the city of Kentwood last week on an expansion. The expansion, which the company says is necessary to make additional room for work done for the military, was given tax abatements on $750,000 in renovations and more than $2.6 million in equipment. In 2004 and 2001, Borisch received tax abatements for similar expansions despite the fact that the expansions come as the company’s sales continue to grow with sales expecting to exceed $50 million in 2007. Kentwood’s Mayor, Richard Root, described the Borisch in the Grand Rapids Press by saying that “This is a remarkably good application for the city.”
As is generally the case with the local media’s coverage of military contractors, there was never any contextual information about what exactly Borisch does for the military and how its contributions are used in the occupation of Iraq. While it has been largely ignored by the corporate media recently, Borisch manufacturers components for a wide variety of weapons systems used in Iraq including the M1A1 tank, fire control computing sights for Paladin canons, targeting components for various guns, and parts for the Stryker military vehicle. Moreover, far from being “abstractions” that have no direct application in Iraq, many of the components manufactured by Borisch provide critical functionality to the military. The Press coverage also neglected to mention that Borisch Manufacturing is just one of many companies in West Michigan producing components for weapons systems used in Iraq.
According to the Grand Rapids Press, Borisch Manufacturing, a local military (“defense”) contractor, is seeking a tax abatement from the Kentwood City Commission for a recent expansion. The expansion, which will cost $3.4 million, will include $750,000 on property improvements and add $2.6 million in new machinery and equipment to the company’s facilities. Borisch has been a steady recipient of military contracts since the start of the “war on terror” and has not only produced components for weapons systems used in Iraq, but markets its work as an inherent part of “patriotism” and ties their work to Christianity with founder John Borisch describing the company as a model Christian business and citing Psalm 115.1 under its company logo.
Borisch is asking for the tax abatements despite previous abatements from the city and increased sales. Sales for 2006 are expected to increase from $35 million in 2005 to $45 million and then grow again in 2007 to $50 million. Kentwood residents are encouraged to attend the public hearing on Borisch’s request for a tax abatement. The hearing will take place at the Kentwood City Commission meeting at 7:30pm on April 4 at Kentwood’s City Hall (4900 Breton Ave SE). Others may contact Kentwood’s City Commission although they will likely not be very receptive to concerns coming from non-residents.