Published February 1984 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd A Shot in the Arm for Small Businessmen The West Virginia small businessman comprises a significant part of the state's economy. From shopkeepers in Bluefield to restaurateurs in the Northern Panhandle, our small businessmen play an integral role in making West Virginia's economy work. Efforts to help our small businessmen thrive deserve priority attention, which is why I recently co-sponsored a Senate bill that would aid small businesses in competing for federal contracts. That bill, which is known as the Small Business Competition in Contracting Act, contains a number of provisions that would be beneficial to West Virginians and to the nation's economy in general. The goal of the bill is to increase small business participation in the federal procurement process by tightening up federal regulations that have been used to deny contracts to small businesses. That tightening of federal procurement regulations should open the way for more small businesses to sell products and services to the federal government. The bill also contains a section that requires a prime contractor to make an effort to find subcontractors in areas hardest hit by unemployment, so-called ''labor surplus" areas. Most of West Virginia qualifies under that category. Finally, the bill would have the important side effect of improving competition for Pentagon contracts, which would save the taxpayers' money by promoting greater efficiency in the purchasing of spare parts. The Pentagon's spare parts buying procedures have been controversial, and have come under fire for the large sums of money that have been spent for relatively inexpensive items. Recent reports, for instance, suggest that the Pentagon has spent hundreds of dollars for a simple tool, a wrench or a hammer, that should cost less than $10. The Small Business Competition in Contracting Act is the kind of bill that could curb that type of wasteful spending, and that could be a big step toward directing more contracts to many small, excellent companies. West Virginia's small businessmen would certainly benefit from that kind of effort, and from similar attempts to utilize the talents and potential of our small businessmen to their fullest.