Despite nationwide supply chain challenges brought on by the coronavirus, an EM contractor at the DOE Idaho National Laboratory Site has found success in relying on local and regional small businesses for goods and services.
Elisabeth Warn, Idaho Environmental Coalition (IEC) Small Business Programs representative, said small businesses throughout Idaho have been particularly helpful in keeping an inventory of materials necessary for IEC to fulfill its contractual cleanup commitments.
“Our work with local small businesses is vital to IEC’s success,” she said. “We have contract requirements to meet, but more importantly, small businesses have many unique skills and capabilities that are important to our cleanup work.”
IEC regularly purchases food, bottled water, fuel, clothing, and ice melt throughout the year. Local and regional small businesses that regularly do business with IEC know to stock up on such items to enable them to immediately respond to the company’s needs.
“The supplies we provide are important for IEC employees to perform their work safely,” said Brad Doman, a sales executive with Advanced Industrial Supply in Pocatello, Idaho, about 50 miles from Idaho Falls. “Stocking and selling those supplies helps us employ more people and offer a greater array of products that helps us to be more competitive.”
IEC also uses small businesses to provide such services as electrical, engineering, radiological protection, safety, computer support, photography, and technical writing and editing.
Doing business with IEC has far-reaching benefits for Wheeler Electric in Idaho Falls.
“Working with IEC, we have the ability to hire local people, local subcontractors, and local suppliers,” said Wheeler Electric Project Manager Jake Norman. “Where we work is where we live and that helps keep dollars in the local economy.”
Ashley Quiroz, the owner of Eagle Rock Specialties, a wholesale distributor of industrial supplies in Idaho Falls, agrees.
“Our contracts with IEC have helped us grow our business,” she said. “Because of the volume of work we do, we’re able to stock more goods that our clients need and we’re now at a point where we can hire additional employees.”
IEC’s Warn said purchasing goods and services from local and regional small businesses has an economic advantage beyond IEC and the companies it does business with.
“Using small businesses, complemented by our purchasing strategies and agreements, has helped IEC save taxpayers $1.6 million in our first year,” she said. “That’s a number that benefits everyone.”
In its first year of business as an EM contractor, IEC spent nearly $69 million of its contract funding with 290 small businesses, many of which are in eastern Idaho. Of the $69 million, 37.7% was spent with Idaho Falls-area small businesses.
For the duration of its contract, IEC will continue to promote small business in eastern Idaho and throughout the state, Warn said.
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