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Sandia launches program to help small businesses compete

SANDIA LABS PHOTO/nicholas kerekes
Sandia National Laboratories holds small-business forums throughout the year, like this one in March for women-owned small businesses and featuring, left to right, Susan D. Swafford, founder of Core Advantage, Arthur Humphries, with the Procurement Technical Assistance, center, Patricia Brown, a Sandia supplier diversity advocate and Joshua Baca with the U.S. SBA. Sandia today at a similar forum launched a mentor-protege program for small businesses.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new program at Sandia National Laboratories is designed to help a pair of local small businesses grow and compete better for government contracts each year.

The lab announced this mentor-protege program Tuesday, where two small businesses selected from a group of applications can work with subject matter experts from Sandia’s approximately 12,000 employees. The selected companies also have the opportunity to receive contracts from Sandia, the U.S. Department of Energy and other labs without going through a competitive bid process, according to Paul Sedillo, small business program manager for Sandia.

“We are able to spend some resources to ensure that you have everything you need to take your business to the next level,” Sedillo told business leaders during a small business forum on Tuesday morning.

The goal of the program is to help businesses that already work as subcontractors for Sandia to be more efficient, while helping new small businesses connect with the lab, according to Delfinia Salazar, senior manager of the lab’s supply chain integration department.

“Hopefully, this may be an opportunity for you to serve as either a new supplier or continue to do business with Sandia,” Salazar said.

DOE established the program as a way to ensure that more small businesses have the ability to work with the federal agency and the programs it oversees. Sandia and other national labs operate as contractors for the department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, and Sedillo said applying for federal government contracts can be a challenge.

Applications, available by the end of the year, will be looking for small businesses offering professional, scientific and technical services, as well as those that specialize in construction, Sedillo said. The program runs for up to three years.

Companies must qualify as small businesses, though Sedillo said historically black colleges and other minority higher learning institutions are invited to apply as well. Companies also must have been in business two years, have a good safety record and meet Sandia’s product and service needs, among other qualifications. For a full list of qualifications, visit Sandia’s business opportunities website.

Once a pair of businesses have been selected, they will receive technical and business assistance, working with Sandia employees ranging from electrical engineers to procurement specialists depending on the needs of the company.

Perhaps most uniquely, DOE and the lab it works with can select participating companies as subcontractors directly, rather than going through a competitive bid process. Sedillo said eligible construction projects cannot exceed $6.5 million, and all others must be $4 million or less.

Going forward, Sedillo said he hopes the lab can select two new companies to participate each year, across a wider variety of specialties.

“We plan to have a good variety,” he said.



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