The myth is that small companies are stingier than large ones in supporting community activities. Now comes the first major study of corporate involvement in community services to take a rigorous look at the small-business role, and the myth will never be the same. Some highlights of the study of 182 Oregon-based businesses conducted by researchers at Oregon State University and funded by the Small Business Admin-istration:

Small businesses give more to their communities per employee than large companies do, when all forms of contribution are considered.

In large companies, cash is the favored form of contri-bution.

Among small companies, volunteer time was worth twice the value of their cash and in-kind donations.

"We discovered so much local involvement on the part of the owners or principals in small companies that you had to wonder how they had time to run their businesses," says Patricia Frishkoff, an accounting professor and an author of the report.

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