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Lujan urges lab to contract more small businesses

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LANL: In the past year, Los Alamos has contracted close to a billion dollars

By John Severance

Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District drafted a letter to New Mexico’s national laboratories and military bases today urging them to contract more with New Mexico-headquartered businesses in order to encourage business opportunities in the state.
The letter was sent to Los Alamos National Laboratory. Similar letters were also sent to Sandia National Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base, Cannon Air Force Base, Holloman Air Force Base, and the Air Force Research Laboratory.
In a letter, Lujan wrote to LANL director Charles McMillan, stating, “the people and businesses of New Mexico have a long history of providing excellent service and products as they fulfill their federal contracts.  Since the federal government has a very heavy presence within our state due to the number of national labs and military bases, these contracts are among the primary drivers of economic growth and job creation in New Mexico.
“Many New Mexican businesses, including minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses are poised and prepared to carry out contracts and enter into business relationships with the many federal entities who do business within our state, and I would like to encourage you and your team to consider the many benefits that New Mexico-headquartered businesses have to offer.
“I urge you to consider local small businesses when your officials write policies that influence how acquisition officials and program managers interact with contractors.”
LANL, though, has been interacting with using small businesses on a regular basis.
According to the lab’s small business program manager Dennis Roybal, LANL purchased nearly $1 billion in goods and services in the 2010 fiscal year ending September 30, 2010. The $925 million in purchases was helped in part by funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act the lab received for environmental remediation and basic research.
“The economic health of Northern New Mexico directly correlates to the health of the laboratory,” lab director Charles McMillan said. ““Now more than ever, the nation is turning to national laboratories to help American business and industry maintain its edge in creativity and innovation.
The laboratory and the Department of Energy/National Nuclear
Security Administration annually set targets for the percentage of purchases made by small businesses. In fiscal year 2010, 63 percent of all purchases made by the laboratory were from small businesses, far exceeding the Lab’s target of 46 percent.
“We are aware of some of the things the lab is doing.  He just wants to encourage all of these federal installations to do everything they can to work with local businesses,” said Lujan’s press secretary Andrew Stoddard in an email.
The lab also exceeded its goals for purchases from Small
Disadvantaged Businesses, Women-Owned Small Businesses, Historically Underutilized (HUBZone) businesses, Veteran-Owned and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned small businesses.
Over the past decade, the New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMBSA) a partnership between Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, and the state of New Mexico, has created or maintained nearly 1,550 jobs, provided 1,736 small businesses with $25.2 million worth of research hours and materials, increased small companies’ revenues by $82 million, and reduced their operating costs by $45 million. These companies have, in turn, invested $19 million into New Mexico goods and services. Last year, NMSBA provided $4.6 million in assistance to 339 companies in 27 counties.
“Moving forward, LANL has plans to award hundreds of millions of dollars in small business contracts for environmental cleanup, monitoring, and waste transportation services through 2015; and significant design and construction work is on the horizon, “ McMillan said. “I look forward to working with Congressman Lujan to explore new ideas.”