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Earlier this month, the White House listed 100 projects where federal stimulus money has already created jobs. The one project in Massachusetts involved the contract for baggage scanners with Reveal. We decided to go to Bedford to find out whether the contract actually created any jobs.
Reveal already has machines in 100 U.S. airports. They will start delivering new ones in September. They are already assembling them. Michael Ellenbogen, the company's CEO, took us on a tour of the factory, and showed off the new machines.
"It's a rotating X-ray system", Ellenbogen said, "and it scans the bag kind of like a slinky, and then analyzes the contents of the bag measuring the mass, the density, the atomic number of all the objects in the bag and makes a decision — red light, green light. Is there something in there that's of interest?"
Reveal has been installing baggage scanners in China, Israel and Europe. Besides the machines that scan checked baggage, it makes another machine that detects explosives in carry-ons.
Just a little over 100 people work here. The stimulus funding has enabled the company to hire another 11.
Tim Kirk is one of them. He lives in Manchester-by-the-Sea. He used to commute to his job in Wilmington for another bomb detector company until six months ago, when he was laid off. Two weeks ago, he started working at Reveal as a product manager. He's married. He has two children, two and four. His wife works as a psychologist in Lynnfield. Kirk says until he got this job, it was tough.
"Of course," Kirk said. "I did a little contracting and consulting, but for the most part, it's been a real struggle over the last six months, and I'm very relieved to not only have gainful employment but to be employed by such a company."
Kirk says that he likes that Reveal is a small, but growing company.
At the same time that Kirk joined the company, Scott Bijlani started his new job with Reveal as field service engineer, courtesy of federal dollars. He'll be responsible for installing the bomb detection machines.
"When I was laid off from my prior company," Bijlani said, "I heard all those horror stories about people getting laid off, difficulty finding positions. At that point, I had a brand-new daughter about a month old."
That's in addition to two other children, five and three. His wife was home with the newborn.
"Issues came up about medical insurance" Bijlani said, "next paycheck, how to fund all the kids' activities, how to pay the mortgage, so getting this opportunity is a huge relief."
Reveal is trying to fill another 10 openings right now, and on top of that, expects to hire 10 to 20 more people to fulfill this contract.
The company says it's bought from many other Massachusetts businesses in order to fulfill its new contract. But there's no telling yet how many jobs at other companies this new contract may create.
This program aired on June 26, 2009.
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