Good Government, Or '60 S Relic?

For Joseph A. Gomez, the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program was a mixed blessing. The program, which steers government procurement contracts to small and disadvantaged businesses, helped the 53-year-old businessman land a much-needed job with the Federal Aviation Administration in 1985. His electrical contracting business was struggling to complete a private job in the wake of a joint-venture partner's bankruptcy, leaving virtually no time to develop new business. Gratefully, Gomez nabbed the $200,000 FAA contract to install an approach lighting system at a New Hampshire airport. The deal helped his business ride out that lean period.

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