Sandia's small business initiative will 'light the fuse and ignite the flame'

John Garcia feels the playing field has been leveled.

The New Mexico district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration believes Sandia National Laboratories' decision to launch a 5 percent pricing preference for qualified companies will "light the fuse and ignite the flame" for small businesses in New Mexico. Potentially, $100 million is at stake for subcontract awards with the preference, according to Sandia.

"I can't ask for anything more," Garcia said in a phone interview Wednesday. "That's going to create jobs. That's what this is about."

To qualify, a business must be registered and licensed in New Mexico, have an operating location in state and have 50 percent of its employees be state residents. In addition to having at least half of the base from the Land of Enchantment, the business has to meet North American Industry Classification System Code and associated Small Business Administration size standards.

When asked if a pricing preference for small, instate businesses existed before Tuesday's announcement, Garcia said, "it wasn't 5 percent," and small businesses have been asking for a program like this for a long time.

Garcia said it's too soon to see who's already tried to take advantage of the pricing preference, but thinks there will be movement quickly on it.

“Our intent was to develop specific qualifications to ensure we’re offering the pricing preference to small businesses that truly are operating in New Mexico, employing New Mexico labor and contributing to New Mexico,” Delfinia Salazar, senior manager of the labs' supply chain integration department, said in a statement.

Sen. Martin Heinrich praised the largest government contractor in New Mexico, which has $3.17 billion budget for fiscal year 2017. 

“In addition to substantial contributions to our nation's security, Sandia National Laboratories and its employees play a central role in the community and the economy of New Mexico," Heinrich wrote in a statement. "Over the last several years, I have worked to ensure Sandia prioritizes local contracting and I welcome the announcement of their new commitment to source locally. This a big win for small businesses in New Mexico and for our local economy.”

“We want small businesses statewide to have these opportunities,” Younger said.