Today, the Romney campaign is hosting an entire series of campaign events based on President Obama’s misinterpreted comment about small businesses. While Obama’s full speech made a “no man is an island” argument, the Romney campaign has seized on the quote, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that” as evidence of Obama’s disdain for small business owners.
Romney, ignoring the fact that he has echoed this same sentiment on multiple occasions, organized 24 “We Did Build This” events in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Nevada. At each event, local business owners are speaking about their self-sufficiency in running a business and how government is hindering their growth.
But, like the New Hampshire business owner showcased in Romney’s attack ad on the issue, many of these business owners have received significant support from the government, a ThinkProgress analysis finds.
- Ball Office Products hosted the “We Did Build This” event in Richmond, Virginia. The company received a loan of $635,000 through the Small Business Administration in 2012, according to USASpending.gov. The company was also awarded a lucrative $52,525 contract with the General Services Administration just a year after its founding.
- Midwest Tape, a media distributor of Holland, Ohio, was showcased at a local event and has been contracted by the Department of Defense since 2008, earning a cumulative $13,659.
- Columbus Truck and Equipment was featured in a neighboring event and has received $6,643 in contracts with the Department of Defense.
- Cranston Material Handling Equipment Corporation, the owner of which spoke Wednesday morning at a campaign event in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has reaped a total of $61,729 in contracts with the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2007.
- Systems Engineering Co.The owner of Systems Engineering has received a total of $180,200 in DOD contracts, as recently as last year.
- Brady Industries in Las Vegas has received $54,425 in contracts with Veterans Affairs since 2009.
- Pennsylvania business PRL Industries Inc. received a $167,847 contract through the Department of Homeland Security for ship and boat propulsion components for the U.S. Coast Guard in August 2008. Janis Herschkowitz, who spoke on behalf of PRL, Inc. used to be a director of the National Consumer Cooperative Bank, which, defined in Herschkowitz’ own words, was created by Congress “to meet personal, social or business needs, especially in low- and moderate-income communities by forming cooperatives.”
- An Iowa event featured Competitive Edge, Inc. which was contracted by Veterans Affairs for $3,543 to make informational refrigerator magnets.
- J & W Cycles of Missouri was awarded $25,808 in contracts from the DOD and Department of Interior.
- Total Resource, featured in a Sparks, Nevada campaign event, has been a federal contractor since 2010, and received a $11,200 contract from the DOD in 2009.
- Applegate Insulation, which hosted one of the events in Michigan, benefited from an energy saving federal tax credit worth 30 percent of the installation project, up to $1,500.
- Home Instead Senior Care supported Romney in Roanoke, Virginia, even though home health care companies receive 75 percent of their funding from public programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Home Instead franchises in Virginia have received at least $3,613,549 in federal funding through the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2008. Chris Head, who represented Home Instead at the event, has previously lamented the low Medicaid reimbursement rates in Virginia and told the Roanoke Times that he wished state funding had helped save the now-defunct local Mill Mountain Theatre.
- Ed Nagle of Nagle Trucking in Ohio also took issue with Obama’s speech, which mentioned roads and bridges as examples of essential government support. But less than a year ago, Nagle protested an idea to privatize the Ohio Turnpike, noting that the privatized Indiana toll road “has diminished in its quality and it’s become a lot more expensive.”
While the “We Did Build This” event was intended to “allow small business owners the chance to respond to President Obama’s claim,” it is clear that many of these owners exemplify the combined powers of individual effort and government support that Obama — and Romney — have praised.
Additional reporting by Steven Perlberg.
The Tampa Bay Times reports on two more local businesses that benefited from government contracts, A.D. Morgan Corporation and Value Enterprise Solutions.
This list has been updated to include more businesses that received government funds.