Supporting scientific innovation and the growth of small businesses through strategic outreach
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has long been an industry leader in the research and development fields, but the national lab is also making a name for itself in providing a platform for small businesses cultivation. The Jefferson Lab Small Business Outreach program supports a variety of robust efforts that integrate small businesses into the lab’s procurement process, from focused outreach to small businesses to a small business mentoring program.
“About 50 percent of all Jefferson Lab purchases are made through small businesses,” says Jami Anthony, Jefferson Lab’s small business liaison. “We do all we can to align opportunities for small, disadvantaged, minority and veteran owned businesses. It’s about getting fresh perspective and talent into our pipeline and providing them a chance to learn and expand.”
“Jefferson Lab has a clear focus on small business outreach and integration,” says Charlie Smith, director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at the U.S. Department of Energy. “They’re not only accomplishing great things for their country scientifically, but they’re doing it while consistently meeting all graded categories of their small business goals.”
As a federally regulated organization, Jefferson Lab follows the national standards and requirements set by the DOE for the inclusion of small, minority, women-owned and disadvantaged businesses in its procurements. Through the creative outreach of the organization, Jefferson Lab exceeded all of its 2018 goals and is on track to exceed all goals for 2019, as well.
“Through DOE’s history, we’ve prioritized the involvement and elevation of small businesses,” states Smith. “Small businesses are the innovators. They bring unique experiences, ideas and talents to our labs that make a tremendous impact.”
The Jefferson Lab Small Business Outreach program extends its efforts to reach and educate small business owners by attending trade shows, matchmaking events and more. For instance, a longstanding effort of the program is hosting vendor fairs on-site at Jefferson Lab. These fairs allow the end users of the goods and services to meet with vendors and tradespersons. Each vendor fair hosts up to 30 vendors and can include several different types of businesses, from construction to hardware and software resellers to fabrication companies.
Another facet of the small business program, the mentor-protégé partnership program, fully immerses small businesses in the work and educational opportunities of the procurement process. Protégés are selected based on the forecasted needs of the lab. For example, a small company that focuses on HVAC installation would be a good protégé partner during an uptick of the lab’s HVAC needs. This timely alignment gives the small business liaison the opportunity to interact with the business frequently. Successful partnerships have launched small businesses into becoming resellers for larger businesses and outgrowing the small business denomination.
“The mentor-protégé program has been developed to support as many small businesses as possible, to grow them, and to have them enhance our work here at Jefferson Lab,” says Mitch Laney, Jefferson Lab’s subcontracting officer. “The small business program has helped us exceed the goals mandated by the DOE.”
While the program certainly benefits small businesses, it also helps ensure that the lab receives workmanship and products that meet the lab’s needs. For instance, all small businesses that partner with Jefferson Lab must meet the requirements of a submitted safety plan, and a lot of oversight is provided throughout the work.
“Certain vendors may need the appropriate certifications of the trade,” says Anthony. “However, new vendors can be set and working within a few weeks; it’s a quick process.”
The Jefferson Lab Small Business Outreach program welcomes small businesses who are interested in partnering with Jefferson Lab. To learn more about the program or to inquire about participating, visit the website or contact Jami Anthony.