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Monday, October 12, 2009

Miami Herald: In Florida, 'small businesses' aren't all small

Small businesses are supposed to get a substantial percent of government contracts. But not all contract holders are really that small.

jwyss (at)

What do Dell Computer, General Electric and Boeing have in common? These massive corporations were all counted as ``small businesses'' doing work in Florida last year.

The three firms -- along with a dozen other billion-dollar companies -- soaked up at least $76 million in federal contracts that were recorded as going to small businesses during fiscal year 2008, according to government data.

The issue of how federal dollars are spent is critical in Florida, where 90 percent of all businesses have fewer than 20 employees and government contracts represent a valuable lifeline amid a tanking economy.

While the federal government is obliged to put 23 percent of all direct, or prime, contracts in the hands of small firms, it has missed that mark for the past three years.

``Call me crazy, but I just don't think Fortune 500 companies should be counted as small-business contracts,'' said Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small Business League. ``I just can't believe this is still going on.''

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