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Active Duty: Companies find lucrative business with Uncle Sam (access required)

By Sam Boykin CHARLOTTE — Z-Mar Technology is situated in an unassuming business park in Matthews, near a dentist’s office, a law firm and several retailers. But Z-Mar is unique in that it’s tapping into a growing yet often overlooked market in the Charlotte area — the defense industry. While the company sells products to the commercial computer market, it’s also a federal military contractor. The nine-employee firm is a small but salient example of how companies — both small businesses and multi-national corporations — are creating a defense-related cluster in Charlotte. According to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, four of the nation’s top 10 defense contractors have facilities here. Locally, 781 contracts were awarded in 2008 totaling almost $455 million. And since 2005, $1.1 billion in defense contracts have been issued to Mecklenburg County firms.

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