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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Did Government 'Build That'?

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Georgia delegates Ruby Robinson, right, and Kathy Noble, left, hold up signs and cheer during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Georgia delegates Ruby Robinson, right, and Kathy Noble, left, hold up signs and cheer during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Charles Dharapak/AP

Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention was centered around the theme of the accomplishments of the private sector, especially small businesses. "We Built It" signs dotted the convention hall, playing off President Obama's "you didn't build that," line in reference to the growth of  private businesses in a recent campaign speech. The GOP festivities even included a country singer crooning a new tune, I Built It

“Big government didn’t build America," Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell told the crowd. "You built America! Small businesses don’t come out of Washington, D.C. pre-made on flatbed trucks."

In keeping with that theme, small business owners were highlighted on the main stage. That's where things got kind of interesting. 

One such businessman, Phil Archuleta of New Mexico, took to the stage to rip the Obama administration for policies adopted in connection with the economic stimulus effort that he said were destroying his business. But then he went on to describe exactly what that business is -- providing road signs to the U.S. Forest Service.

Not only did Archuleta derive ongoing revenues from the government, but to build his company, he got an $850,000 loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. And he received helfp from the Commerce Department's Minority Business Development Agency. An MBDA web posting from 2009 calls Archuleta one of its "first and longest-standing clients."

MBDA says the connection to federal assistance "really fueled Mr. Archuleta’s success," helping him build an 11,700 square-foot building for his company, P&M Signs. He also worked with both the Forest Service and the Energy Department's Sandia National Laboratory to develop and patent an environmentally friendly composite sign material. 

Archuleta's business may not have arrived pre-made from Washington on a flatbed truck, but the federal government certainly had something to do with it. 

Correction: This item originally reported that Archuleta's $850,000 loan came from from MBDA. The loan came through the Small Business Administration, with the help of MDBA. An earlier update to this post said MDBA had changed its post to reflect this information, but that was wrong. It was in the original MBDA post. 

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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