Navajo Nation trying to reopen embattled Shiprock factory

Shiprock, New Mexico (AP) 11-07

The Navajo Nation plans to restart a Shiprock manufacturing plant that closed about six months ago.

Tribal Economic Development Director Allan Begay said he hopes to have a new contract for the metal and fiberglass fabrication plant, BCDS Manufacturing, within 60 days.

“Work is going to resume,” he said.

Once the factory is working again, its profits will pay off the $2.2 million loan BCDS took out last year, backed by Navajo Nation money, Begay said.

The first contract would not be a government contract, but Begay said he hopes to secure a military contract within three to six months.

BCDS Manufacturing stopped making loan payments in July, and the tribe’s economic development division took over the payments. The economic development division made a $15,000 payment this month, Begay said.

The company’s board has put chief executive officer Hak Ghun on unpaid leave.

The auditor general’s office has begun an audit, and the economic development division will do its own independent audit, said tribal Council Delegate LoRenzo Bates, a member of the Budget and Finance Committee.

The committee approved an audit in October aimed at explaining how the loan was spent. Begay said the second audit will be a more general one detailing profits, revenues and losses.

“We’ll find out exactly what the situation is when the auditor general completes the audit,” said George Hardeen, spokesman for Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr.

Ghun originally applied for the loan to build an addition to the factory. It was never built, and Ghun said the money instead was spent on inventory, including a $1.2 million reverse osmosis system.

Begay said the tribe will sell the system and put the money toward the loan.

The Navajo Nation owns 51 percent of the company, while 49 percent belongs to Ghun and his shareholders.
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