By DAVID M. JOHNSON
More than $4.5 billion in recovery funds were funneled to Maryland businesses or schools, directly creating 4,464 jobs according to the state's recovery web site. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded large projects, like a $300 million grant awarded to SAIC-Frederick for cancer research, but also smaller ones. This is the first in a series of articles highlighting ARRA projects and lesser-known Maryland businesses who won the loans, grants or contracts to complete them.
UPPER MARLBORO (Nov. 1, 2009) - Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in need of maintenance and the veteran-owned business contracted to repair them are both benefitting from $9.6 million in ARRA funds allotted to the Maryland VA Medical System.
"It's giving us an opportunity to perform project-specific maintenance we put in for, but otherwise would not be able to get moving," said VA Maryland public relations chief David Edwards.
Done Deal General Construction and Electrical of Upper Marlboro won a contract to install modern fire alarms in 30 buildings at the VA Perry Point Medical Center. According to Edwards, the alarms being replaced were installed sometime in the 1960s.
Done Deal employees are waiting for field measurements and project specifications before they can begin work.
"Once we have that info, we will get the job stocked and started," said Done Deal owner Edward Wilson, who expects completion in six to eight months.
Wilson is a disabled veteran who served two years in the Marine Corps before he was discharged with what he described as a seizure disorder.
The first seizure hit off the coast of the Philippines. After 60 days in an overseas hospital, doctors still could not identify the cause of his episodes. No explanation was found, even after another month of observation before his discharge.
Wilson learned skills from his two years of service that have translated well to his role as a business owner.
"In the Marines, they have a perspective of teaching you things and showing you how to do things, then you go and get it done," Wilson said. "Once you have a concept of how to do it, nothing is stopping you but time. That is how they implanted success in you."
Wilson spent more than a decade working for general and electrical contractors before a project manager suggested he start his own company.
"When I started out, the only employees I had were me, myself and I," Wilson said. "Today I have 11 full-time employees and one part-timer."
Wilson credits his location near D.C., or what he calls, "the heartbeat of America," as a major factor in Done Deal making it through the recession. Being a disabled veteran also helps him get federal contracts because the VA Maryland Health Care System prefers giving work to veterans.
"In the end, it works out for us because we hire people who appreciate what the (VA) medical centers are doing," said Edwards. "Veteran-owned is our first priority but, minority-owned and small businesses are also considered."
The modern fire alarms being installed by Done Deal will alert other buildings and the fire department in an emergency.
"We are...installing transmitters for wireless sharing of the status for a fire emergency," said James Plummer, vice president of Electrical Construction at Done Deal. "We're updating 30 buildings and also doing a complete fire alarm overhaul in (one building)."
All contracts awarded to recovery recipients, including Done Deal are displayed on a federal recovery web site. However, at least one contract has been reported incorrectly. According to the site, Done Deal won a $15,532 contract to stop a leak at a National Cemetery in Oregon. The project, in reality, is a security door install for a mental health ward at the VA Medical Center in Baltimore. The mistake has been reported by the VA.
Capital News Service contributed to this report.