At least four Dayton-region companies have registered as interested vendors in the federal U.S.-Mexico border wall project. This file photo from February shows a section of the border fence along the U.S.-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas. (Jason Hoekema/The Brownsville Herald via AP, File)

Ohio firms interested in building Trump’s wall

Several Ohio companies — including at least one from Dayton and two from Butler County — are listed as interested vendors in the building of a barrier along the United States-Mexico border proposed by President Donald Trump.

The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, said this month the department is looking for two kinds of proposals from vendors — one for a solid concrete wall and another for other designs.

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“For planning we anticipate procuring concrete wall structures, nominally 30 feet tall, that will meet requirements for aesthetics, anti-climbing, and resistance to tampering or damage,” a government web site for vendors said.

A centerpiece of President Trump’s campaign last year was building a “wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border to halt illegal immigration.

The deadline for submitted bids is Tuesday. The federal government expects to make multiple awards by mid-April.

The local companies who were listed this week as “interested vendors” on a federal business opportunities database include Allied Builders of Dayton and Baker Concrete Construction of Monroe.

Officials from both companies did not return calls on Friday for comment about their bids.

Also listed is Cleveland Electric Laboratories Co. of Twinsburg, Ohio and several companies with a presence in Ohio, including Martin Marietta Materials and Harsco Corp.

A “Skyward Ltd” with a Dayton address was listed as an interested vendor in the project at the FedBizOpps.gov web site, but a vice president with the company said Friday that was an error. His company was confused with another company by the same name in another state, said Scott Frederick.

Frederick said his company has only a “concept” of using drones to assist with monitoring the border and other uses. He said the company has not registered as an interested vendor in the barrier construction project.

Skyward recently won a contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on using drones to assist in fighting forest fires and wild fires, said Daniel Cyphers, president of Dayton’s Skyward.

Drones could be used to monitor the border area, Cyphers said.

“Similar technology could be used (on the U.S.-Mexico border) and actually in some respects it already is, but primarily for manned aircraft,” he said. “This would just be to introduce some ideas for drones — smaller drones than Predators or things like that.”

Jeff Haymond, dean of Cedarville University’s School of Business Administration and a professor of economics, said any interested firm will have to consider whether the project “fits in with their company’s vision.”

“For firms normally doing government contracts, this is going to be a nice source of revenue potentially for a number of years, both in construction and potentially maintenance,” Haymond said. “Who knows where that could go?”

At the same time, some companies may face some “risks.” Certain stakeholders and customers may recoil at a firm’s participation in the project, he said.

“The way I see it, perhaps the biggest risk to them is the reputational risk of being associated with Mr. Trump and his wall, which is … very controversial,” Haymond said.

Some firms may be “upstream of consumers” so that they don’t necessarily see any immediate reaction from customers, he said.

“Just as the nation is politically divided, you’re going to find companies that share some strong support for even the concept of a wall,” he said.

A poll from Baldwin Wallace University released this week shows that many Ohioans agree something needs to be done with the Mexican border. Nearly 54 percent of Ohio respondents agree that the country’s southern border needs to be strengthened. Twenty-nine percent disagreed while 17 percent were neutral on the question. (The poll was conducted among 1,019 people registered to vote in Ohio between Feb. 24 and March 8, the university said.)

Also registered as interested is a limited liability corporation associated with a Middletown firm, Scorpion SDVOSB.

On its web site, Scorpion says it is “committed to reducing government spending and organizational inefficiency.”

Scorpion on its web site says it has developed a “new generation of highly reflective photo-luminescent products” for the border wall project.

A representative for Scorpion said he wanted to check with his partners before commenting.

The wall is seen by some as a prime business opportunity. More than 730 firms nationally are listed as interested vendors. And according to a letter from a Missouri senator to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the wall would cost nearly $67 billion to build.

Media reports have put the cost at $1 billion to cover just 62 miles along the southern U.S. border.

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