Newswise — ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories today launched a mentor-protégé program to assist small business development and enhance a company’s ability to build a solid foundation to compete for larger and more federal and industry opportunities.

Sandia’s mentor-protégé program was unveiled during a small-business forum at the University of New Mexico Lobo Rainforest. More than 50 small-business representatives attended.

“Sandia believes in small businesses and their importance to the community and the nation,” said Jolyn A. Maheras, director of Sandia’s Integrated Supply Chain Management. “A robust mentor-protégé program fits in perfectly with Sandia’s efforts to work with small businesses. It’s a great opportunity for small businesses to take advantage of our expertise and increase their competitiveness.”

Protégés selected on qualifications, potential

Sandia will pick up to two protégés from this first round of applications, said Sandia’s small-business program manager Paul Sedillo, adding that more will be selected as the program develops. The mentor-protégé agreements will be for two years, with the option of an additional year.

To be protégés, companies must qualify as small businesses, which includes historically black colleges and universities and other minority higher-learning institutions; have been in business for at least two years; have not been a previous participant in a Department of Energy mentor-protégé program; be a U.S.-owned business; have a good safety record; and meet product and service needs of Sandia. Other qualifications will be listed on Sandia’s business opportunities website.

“Sandia is excited to be offering its expertise and allowing small business to grow and develop under these agreements,” Sedillo said. “In addition, the protégé will be eligible to receive noncompetitive subcontracts from Sandia, DOE and other national labs and federal agencies with thresholds of $6.5 million for construction subcontracts and 4 million for other subcontracts.”

Assistance can include developmental and technical help aimed at allowing small businesses to better compete for DOE contracts. Program benefits for mentors and protégés can be viewed at the energy department guidelines webpage.

“We’re looking for companies that want to grow and take that next step,” Sedillo said. “By helping these small businesses, it should expand what those businesses can offer to not only Sandia but to its industry as a whole.”

Program adds to existing suite of small-business opportunities

Sandia’s mentor-protégé program becomes yet another opportunity for small businesses looking to work with the labs. Sandia already hosts public forums with suppliers and civic leaders to discuss subcontracting opportunities and lists opportunities on its website. Sandia also offers a 5% pricing preference for qualified New Mexico small businesses.

In fiscal year 2018, Sandia added more than 460 new small businesses to its supplier base. Small businesses represented 65% of all Sandia suppliers, and U.S. small businesses received $656 million of all Sandia subcontract spending.

During the last fiscal year, Sandia increased spending in several small business categories, including Woman-Owned Small Business, Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) company, Small Disadvantaged Business, Veteran-Owned Small Business and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business.

“The mentor-protégé program is an important, proven way to assist small businesses,” said Delfinia Salazar, senior manager of the labs’ Supply Chain Integration department. “The program gives small businesses a chance to experience working with a federal lab, the ability to compete for larger contracts and an opportunity to benefit from our expertise.”

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