updated 1/2/2004 1:41:03 PM ET 2004-01-02T18:41:03

Recalling his days as a muffin and cookie shop owner, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is proposing new measures to help small businesses, including making it easier for them to compete for federal contracts.

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Kerry, in remarks prepared for delivery Friday, called for less bundling of federal contracts, which groups together smaller contracts and can make it harder for small businesses to compete for them. He said the number and size of bundled contracts has reached a 10-year high.

Although the total number of federal contracts has increased 7 percent under President Bush, according to Kerry, the small-business share has dropped by 14 percent to just 21 percent. He wants to increase that to 30 percent.

In 1976 Kerry opened a cookie and muffin shop called Kilvert and Forbes in Boston’s Quincy Market, which he said gave him firsthand knowledge of the challenges of running a small business.

Kerry said he would make it easier and more affordable for businesses to invest in technology. He called for changes to the tax laws to allow small businesses to immediately write off technology investments, rather than having to space out the tax breaks over several years.

Small businesses are drowning in tax paperwork, Kerry said, especially those that do business in multiple states. He wants to allow state and federal employment tax returns to be filed on a single form.

To make it easier for small businesses to set up pension plans, which Kerry said can cost as much $20,000, the Massachusetts senator supports a pension pooling fund to help share the cost among multiple companies.

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