Stimulus cash at work

From fighting forest fires to laying carpet in day care centers, here's what 5 small businesses that got stimulus-funded contracts are doing with taxpayers' dollars.

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New lights for airport runways
New lights for airport runways
New Bedford Panoramex owner Steven Ozuna, with one of his company's navigation lighting systems

New Bedford Panoramex Corporation
Upland, Calif.
Job count: 15 jobs preserved

The stimulus contract Steven Ozuna landed in May saved the jobs of more than a dozen people at his Upland, Calif., engineering firm.

"I would have pink-slipped at least 15 people -- all very high-level, senior engineers, software designers, and technicians -- who have been in the industry for many, many years," says Ozuna, the owner of New Bedford Panoramex.

Business fell off sharply in 2009, and Ozuna was struggling to hang on to his staff. "The timing couldn't have been more important," he says of the stimulus-funded work. "It came out of the blue. It was really quite something."

Ozuna signed a $3 million contract to install runway navigational lights in 11 airports across the country, replacing aging systems with newer and safer technology. The projects should be completed by February, almost nine months ahead of schedule.

Ozuna hopes the work will lead to more federal contracts for his company. In the meantime, the employees he's been able to keep have continued working on new technology research.

"With these people we are still out there, developing," Ozuna says. "These are the guys that do all this, so if I would have lost them, I would have been in the world of hurt."

By Catherine Clifford, staff reporter

NEXT: Rebuilding a business
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LAST UPDATE: Feb 01 2010 | 12:20 PM ET
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