How She “Built It”: Fox's RNC Theme Undercut By Key Speaker's Business Success

The experience of a small business owner who will be promoted at the Republican National Convention sharply diverges from the right-wing media myth her speech is intended to promote.

On the day that the GOP convention will tout Fox-fueled myth “We Built It” as its primary theme, Delaware Lt. Gov. candidate and small business owner Sher Valenzuela is slated to deliver a speech about small business issues. But contrary to the evening's theme, Valenzuela's company, First State Manufacturing, has received millions of dollars in federal loans and contracts. Valenzuela has not only attributed her success in part to this outside assistance, but urged other small business owners to follow the same strategy of seeking government funds.  

But when reported on Valenzuela's scheduled speech, these facts were absent:

An RNC official tells FOX News Tuesday's schedule also includes a speech by Sher Valenzeula, a Latina candidate for Lieutenant Governor in Delaware.  Her campaign website notes she and her husband started an upholstery business that makes padding for baseball umpires and military vests worn by members of the Israeli military.

The “We Built It” convention theme is based on Fox's distortion of comments made by President Obama, who remarked that business owners succeed with the help of “this unbelievable American system” that includes government spending on infrastructure and education. The right-wing media has deceptively edited Obama's comments to suggest that the president was insulting small business owners, an attack promptly adopted by Republicans; according to, Valenzuela's speech is “meant to directly contrast” Obama's remarks.

In fact, much as Obama suggested, Valenzuela appears to have succeeded through a combination of her own entrepreneurship and government assistance. She has in the past explained that government assistance was a vital factor in the success of her company. Earlier this year, Valenzuela gave a presentation on her small business success, crediting the use of “millions of dollars in secure government contracts.”


The presentation notes that small business owners should start with a “secret weapon” -- the “no-cost/low-cost resources that you, the taxpayer, have already paid for.”


(link to PowerPoint presentation)

Indeed, Valenzuela's company has received more than $2 million in federal loans and more than $15 million in federal contracts.

A Small Business Administration document that names Valenzuela and her company's co-owners “Delaware 2012 Small Business Persons of the Year” details four SBA loans the business has received at various stages of its growth.

First State Manufacturing received an initial $20,000 SBA loan soon after Valenzuela and her husband Eli reportedly started the business out of their garage. FSM received $96,500 in 2001 when the company “was ready to grow again,” and a $65,800 SBA disaster loan “after the 9/11 tragedy and its economic fallout” in order to “maintain their business and employees until revenues returned.”

Today, the company employs “more than 40 technicians working in a new 66,000 square-foot facility funded by a $1.8 million U.S. Small Business Administration 504 loan,” according to the SBA document.

FSM has also benefited from $15 million in federal contracts since 2001, about 66 percent of which were non-competitive dollars. The company received at least $1.5 million each year from fiscal 2006 to 2011, with a high of $3.8 million in 2009. In fiscal 2012, it has received more than half a million dollars in contracts.

FSM, a Milford, DE-based manufacturer of “soft goods and industrial textile product solutions” serves as the “sole source capable” for military products like “V-22 Aircraft Plugs & covers” and “F-16 Curtains & Insulation.” Its customers include Air Force bases and Department of Defense supply centers as well as defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Mohawk Electrical Systems, and IAI/Golan Industries.

The convention theme on August 28, when Valenzuela is expected to speak, “will honor the fact that it is the drive, determination and sacrifice of America's job creators and millions of hard-working American men and women who made the United States the exceptional nation it is.” RNC chairman Reince Priebus has said of Valenzuela's participation that “we are thrilled to have Sher on our convention schedule and excited to share her story.”

It remains to be seen whether Fox News and the media at large will be as eager to share the full details of Valenzuela's business success.