Idaho National Laboratory’s crucial mission – to discover, demonstrate and secure innovative nuclear energy solutions, other clean energy options and critical infrastructure – cannot be accomplished without many thousands of key players, each as important as the next. The laboratory’s beautiful location in southeastern Idaho, surrounded by grand mountains, sweeping sky and blustery desert winds, furnishes resources for all these key players, including many east Idaho-based small businesses.
In Fiscal Year 2019, Idaho National Laboratory once again demonstrated a firm commitment to partnering with small businesses by meeting all but one of its small business goals.
INL reported spending over $332 million with small businesses, which substantially exceeds the $114 million amount set as a goal at the beginning of the year. Not only did INL exceed its overall small business goal, it also exceeded spending goals with Idaho businesses, spending $222 million.
“Our partnerships with Idaho businesses are invaluable to the success of INL’s operations,” said Dennis Newby, the lab’s chief financial officer. “We are fortunate to have such high-quality resources throughout our state to fulfill the day-to-day demands of the lab.”
INL’s contracts with small businesses are designed to provide materials and services needed to achieve its diverse missions, including items such as office supplies, fuels and information technology equipment, as well as construction services and skilled expertise in key research areas. As part of their efforts to achieve statewide procurement goals, the INL Small Business Team travels throughout the state to share opportunities for contracting and partnering to do research, as well as information about proposal writing to increase a business’s chances of receiving an award.
“I am incredibly proud of INL’s strong commitment to working with small businesses and especially Idaho-based small businesses,” said Stacey Francis, the lab’s Small Business Program manager. “Small businesses are integral to our success, and we are excited to continue cultivating these positive partnerships.”
One eastern Idaho small business that has been a key player in INL’s success is MarCom LLC. Founded in 2003 by Marcella Medor, a member of the Abenaki Tribe, MarCom is a Small Business Administration (SBA)-certified, Native American-owned and woman-owned business with offices in Idaho Falls and Butte, Montana. The company provides management, administrative, engineering, nuclear operations, and health and safety services to DOE sites around the nation, with 90% of their work coming from INL.
MarCom’s main role with INL is in waste management assistance and general support of its waste programs. This primarily happens through staff augmentation, which simply means hiring or subcontracting people to work on INL projects, and technical consulting work.
“One of the bigger waste projects where we supported the lab was the Remote-Handled Low-Level Waste (RHLLW) Project,” Jim Jackson, MarCom’s administration manager, said. “We made determinations about the waste that went into that project and supported the facilities working on it with staffing and consultation.”
MarCom is also assisting with staffing and consulting for INL’s Transuranic (TRU) Waste Program and building computer software systems for the lab. In the last two years, MarCom has doubled in size, going from 50 to 100 employees. INL having been its main customer since its founding, MarCom credits the lab, as well as the business acumen of Medor, with its incredible growth.
“Lately, we’ve been really trying to diversify, to add more capabilities and make MarCom an even more valuable resource for the lab and its customers,” Jackson said.
Part of this diversification process includes dipping into construction; MarCom just recently hired a construction project manager. They are hoping to become more of a primary resource for INL and other DOE labs in terms of high-end technical support, through adding nuclear engineers, software engineers and additional programming support. An IT developer himself, Jackson is especially excited to see MarCom expand in this department.
“Working with INL has given MarCom many great opportunities,” Jackson added. “Our INL clients have been incredibly supportive, giving us the chance to engage in a large variety of work,” he said. “We really appreciate that, and our top priority is to continue providing valuable services to the lab. We feel like we can be a strong support for INL as it is accomplishing its crucial mission, by providing new resources and cutting-edge technical innovation.”