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BP Oil Spill Fuels Government Contracting

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The BP (BP) oil spill last year took its toll on small businesses along the Gulf Coast, but the federal government is also looking to increase contracting opportunities that could balance out the damage to some.

Exactly one year ago, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig used by BP exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, ultimately leaking some 5 billion barrels of oil into the surrounding waters, harming the ecosystem and the businesses and residents making their living off the waters.

The befouling of the Gulf Coast by last year's BP oil spill opened opportunities for small businesses to contract with the U.S. government.

According to the Small Business Administration, the disaster was a good reason to remind local businesses of the large amount of government contracting work in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

The BP disaster was an "opportunity to [offer] federal contracting as a revenue source for the businesses affected -- and not just what came out of the spill, but the billions of contracting that comes out of the Gulf" through NASA, the U.S. Army Corps and even from 2005's Hurricane Katrina, for instance, says Joe Jordan, SBA's administrator of government contracting and senior adviser for the Gulf Recovery Act.

The funds are in addition to direct business disaster loans.

Some small businesses saw immediate contracting opportunities after the oil spill as a result of cleanup efforts.

Others can still look to take advantage of opportunities at the prime contracting level in such industries as manufacturing, construction, maintenance and technical services, information technology, even coastal restoration. Subcontracting -- filling the needs of the supply chain -- is equally important, Jordan adds.

"There are a lot of places where small businesses could play quite well," Jordan says, and local business owners should not be deterred if they want to expand into another industry that might be more profitable.

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