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Small business goals key to DOE award of Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative contract

AMC Sign, USC Aiken, XC (copy)

This sign at USC Aiken, along Trolley Line Road, advertises the "future location" of the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative. (Colin Demarest/Staff)

The Department of Energy’s choice of an Idaho-based contractor to design and build the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative at USC Aiken is justified because, among other reasons, it helps the department achieve its small business and diversity goals, a recent public notice shows.

The sole-source contract awarded to North Wind Construction Services LLC was the right move, the notice adds, because it also offers the “best opportunity” to keep the $50 million project on schedule, with completion expected in fiscal year 2024.

The Energy Department’s nuclear cleanup office, Environmental Management, awarded the contract to North Wind at the start of April.

Environmental Management had received eight capability statements – pitches, basically – from interested teams. None came from companies based in the greater Aiken and Savannah River Site area, according to an Energy Department spokesperson.

The Small Business Administration signed off on the selection in early February.

The Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative is meant to augment USC Aiken and the Savannah River National Laboratory, two institutions already working closely together. The April 14 public notice describes the long-awaited facility – to be built on campus – as a place where the industrial, commercial and educational spheres can meld.

Anne Smith, North Wind Group’s director of communications and marketing, in an email to the Aiken Standard this month said plans are in place to engage the Aiken County community “by hiring local first, as we have staffing needs.” A subcontracting strategy will prioritize “the local SB community,” Smith continued, “and we are exploring options for a virtual vendor outreach.”

North Wind, no stranger to the Energy Department, established an office in Aiken in 2014.

Colin Demarest covers the Savannah River Site, the Energy Department, its NNSA, and government and politics, in general. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin.

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