WCG has its headquarters in Montgomery County, which aggressively recruited the company with financial enticements. "When I moved my company from Washington, D.C., to Bethesda, the county gave us all kinds of training and relocation grants – hard dollars, not just tax breaks," says Mr. Chapelli.
Other advantages: Montgomery County is home to more than half of Maryland's biotechnology firms as well as the High Technology Council of Maryland, a membership organization serving over 800 companies through professional networks, seminars, education, and political lobbying. Mr. Chapelli also cites the pool of available Hispanic talent as a major attraction of Maryland, calling it "a highly educated community that includes people who come out of the defense community to build businesses."
The Garden State may has neither enormous military bases nor a border with the District of Columbia, but it still offers strategic location for a federal contractor. With its vast industrial infrastructure and position between New York City and Washington, D.C., New Jersey boasts an aggressive cadre of Hispanic 8(a) entrepreneurs.
Elizabeth-based Imperial Construction Group has sought contracts with each of the five military operations in New Jersey and has won business with most of them, says Executive Vice-President Lou Fernandez. Imperial's sales have risen from $14 million in 1998 to projected 2000 sales of about $40 million, he reports.
Federal contracts account for 70 percent of Imperial's sales. "Our goal is to eventually become a large defense contractor," says Mr. Fernandez.
Such optimism typifies Hispanic 8(a) companies in New Jersey, including the newer firms, according to Mr. Fernandez. He mentors Hispanic and other businesses, and he makes it a point to subcontract with them. "More than 65 percent of our purchasing dollars go to such businesses," he says.
Mr. Fernandez also points to New Jersey's support of business development. The state offers more than a dozen different loan programs, an eight-week training program for aspiring entrepreneurs, and a program that helps minority businesses bid on projects and get performance bonds.
Hector Guevara, CEO of Hytech Industries Corp., isn't quite sure why New York ranks ninth on the list of top states for Hispanic 8(a) firms – he thinks it should rank higher.
"It could be the relative lack of military installations. It's not the lack of state and federal help, and we certainly have the numbers in terms of Hispanic-owned businesses," he says. New York has only two Air Force and five Army installations. Census statistics indicate that the state accounts for nearly 10 percent of the nation's Hispanic population.
According to Empire State Development, New York's economic agency, the state offers numerous business incentives, such as investment and research tax credits, sales tax exemptions, property tax abatement, loans, and environmental tax credits as well as no personal property taxes. New York has cut its taxes 36 times over the last four years.
Hytech, a design engineering and manufacturing firm, has been an 8(a) firm for about four years. Last year, Mr. Guevara appointed an employee to handle government contracts full time. Although the company has secured contracts with Amtrak, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Army, and a subsidiary of prime contractor Westinghouse, it has yet to land its first deal under the 8(a) program.
Claudia Fabela gives much of the credit for developing the state's Hispanic 8(a) firms to the regional office of the Small Business Administration. "Some SBA offices take a long time to approve contracts, but our office is very responsive," says Ms. Fabela, CEO of Naperville-based TDF Corp., a computer consulting firm. Most of her company's revenues, which totaled about $7 million last year, came from contracts with Scott Air Force Base and the Army's Rock Island Arsenal. The state's other major military base is the massive Great Lakes Naval Training Center.
Ms. Fabela sees an advantage in being away from the crowded competition of Washington, D.C. "The great thing about Illinois is that it has fewer companies like ours," she says. "Most of our competitors are centered in the eastern U.S., so we can offer a local presence within our customers' own constituency."
On the business-development side, Illinois makes a strong case. Fortune magazine ranks Chicago fifth among the world's best cities for businesses, and the state ranks third in the nation for number of corporate headquarters, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. Census data show that Illinois manufacturing workers are some of the most productive in the country, on the basis of value added per working hour.
"I mentor other 8(a) companies. I tell them that they have to go outside of Arizona if they really want to succeed big time," says Hector Armenta, CEO of Cabaco Inc., an 8(a) firm based in Sierra Vista.
Luckily, Arizona companies have plenty of directions to follow as they seek business beyond the state's borders. California, Nevada, and New Mexico are brimming with military and other federal facilities, while Arizona itself has only two Air force bases, one Army facility, and the Yuma Proving Ground.
"It's sort of a misnomer to say that Arizona [has a lot of 8(a) firms], because you will find that the really successful 8(a) firms here do most of their business outside the state," comments Mr. Armenta. "We are here mostly because of the quality of life."
Cabaco designs and installs communications networks and computers. Last year, the company posted $30 million in revenues. But 75 percent to 80 percent of that amount comes from outside Arizona, and most of the company's 500 employees also work in other states.
State profiles written by Derek Reveron. Introduction by Senior Editor Joel Russell.
Most Popular Stories
- 15 Myths That Could Ruin Your Hispanic Ad Campaign
- AIG to Create 230 Jobs in Charlotte
- General Motors Names Mary Barra as First Female CEO
- Russia Says Nyet to Canada North Pole Claim
- Bipartisan Negotiators Reach Modest Budget Agreement
- Justin Bieber Visits Typhoon Victims, Plays Concert
- Bitcoin Clones Lurch Onto Financial Scene
- Senate Dems Move Forward With Obama Nominees
- MasterCard to Split Shares, Raise Dividend
- New Obama Aide to Focus on Climate Change