Montana small businesses received about half a billion dollars in 2018 through federal contracts. The federal government says it exceeded its small business federal contracting goal nationwide for the sixth year in a row in 2018.
Montana businesses received about $729 million dollars last year, and about 60% of that went to small businesses. That’s according to a U.S. Small Business Administration press release on Wednesday.
Wayne Gardella is the district director of the SBA’s Montana branch, and he says a majority of those contracts go to small businesses through the Department of Transportation, the Forest Service and Malmstrom Air Force Base.
”Montana lives and dies from the government contracting point with those big players,” Gardella said.
That means that changes in funding to any of those would have a big impact on Montana small businesses.
Gardella also says that while national numbers change, goals for Montana are always met and well above the minimum.
Federal government contracts are such a large source of revenue, in fact, he says he often finds himself encouraging small businesses in Montana to diversify beyond them.
“Those that rely solely on the federal government, it can be risky," Gardella said. "It can be very beneficial, but it can also be very risky.”
The money that Montana receives through federal contracts can also increase significantly when a big fire hits. Gardella says that local businesses saw a big jump in federal contract dollars during the Lolo Peak Fire in 2017. And while he agrees that no fire news is good news, the lack of fires currently means fewer federal dollars to the same businesses.
“So, double-edged sword here," he said. "We don’t want the fires, but they suffer. When there’s lots of fires, they do well.”
The national announcement also says that while the federal government met its targets in contracting small businesses on the whole, small disadvantaged businesses, and small businesses owned by disabled veterans, it did not meet its goals with women-owned small businesses or businesses in historically underutilized business zones.