Laying the foundation for Hanford cleanup success

As the site services provider at Hanford, Mission Support Alliance (MSA) plays a key role in ensuring workers across the site have the tools and resources they need to meet complex cleanup demands. Whether it’s maintaining water lines and roadways, updating electrical systems, preparing an employee for the next step in their career or helping small businesses get their foot in the door, providing support is at the heart of MSA’s day-to-day operations. 

Over the last 10 years of MSA’s contract, the company has worked with local and regional small businesses to offer advice, answer questions and to ensure they are on a path for success while supporting Hanford cleanup. In fiscal year 2019, MSA exceeded its small business subcontracting goal of 50 percent, finishing the fiscal year with nearly 81 percent of all awards going to small businesses. Since contract inception in 2009, MSA has awarded nearly $1.3 billion in contracts to small businesses, including information technology services, construction and maintenance operations. 

“Small businesses provide highly-skilled and experienced workers who can offer a range of important services that are vital to Hanford’s cleanup mission,” said Haley Taylor, MSA’s small business program manager. “If you’re a small business and you’re looking for an opportunity at Hanford, MSA has a lot of great opportunities.”

With a continued emphasis on working with small businesses, MSA held its first subcontracting forum, aimed at promoting open dialogue with local small businesses on recent and upcoming contract changes and discussing future procurement opportunities. The forum was attended by more than 20 small businesses.

MSA’s support of small businesses received national recognition recently as the company received the Facility Management Contractor Small Business Achievement of the Year award at DOE’s Annual Small Business Forum and Expo. MSA was recognized for a number of our small business initiatives, which include attending local and national expos and events to meet with small businesses and help them register with the Hanford site vendor database. 

In addition to being one of the sponsors for the Bridging Partnerships Small Business Symposium, which is held annually, MSA also partners with the other Hanford contractors to form the Hanford Small Business Council (HSBC). The council provides an opportunity for the small business program managers to collaborate once a month to discuss new or upcoming small business rules and regulations, ask questions and provide guidance and opportunities for small businesses looking to secure work on the Hanford site and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The HSBC is unique and one-of-a-kind, as it is the only Small Business Council across the DOE complex. 

Along with fostering small business growth, MSA also prides itself on fostering the professional growth of its employees. While working with small businesses continues to be a high priority, MSA also prides itself on providing opportunities for potential and current employees to be prepared to take that next step in their career. From community-focused events such as Connect Tri-Cities and scholarships for local students, to workforce and leadership opportunities and training and mentoring programs, MSA implements many programs for employee development. 

“Our goal is to ensure every employee recognizes that they are valuable to our company,” said Todd Beyers, vice president of human resources at MSA. “It doesn’t matter if they are furthering their education or looking to take the next step in their career, we are committed to ensure there are opportunities available to help employees grow professionally.” 

MSA partners with local organizations, including the Columbia Basin Veterans Center, WorkSource and Goodwill Industries, as well as multiple local high schools to assist with mock interviews and résumé- building workshops. Additionally, MSA leads the annual Connect Tri-Cities event, which draws more than 1,000 local high school students and job seekers. MSA also has awarded nearly $1 million in scholarships over the last 10 years to employee dependents and local students who are pursuing college degrees. 

Throughout the year, MSA opens its doors to college students looking to gain real-world experiences. As a part of its internship programs, students have the opportunity to work with various organizations, applying what they learned in the classroom. To date, close to 500 students have interned at MSA. 

Professional growth opportunities for current employees include a six-month professional development program, informal and formal mentoring sessions, specialized training courses and educational reimbursements for advancing their education. 

Later this year, the MSA contract with DOE will officially come to a close, but the company’s legacy will continue to have impact. With a changing Hanford cleanup landscape, there will continue to be a need for strong relationships with small businesses while ensuring the future workforce is prepared for the future growth at Hanford.  

Robert Wilkinson is president of Mission Support Alliance.

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