Tuesday, October 27, 2020

INL small business subcontracting, purchasing hit new high in FY 2020

Despite being an incredibly challenging year, FY 2020, which ended Sept. 30, saw Idaho National Laboratory’s highest-ever levels of small business subcontracting and purchasing.

The lab spent around $352.5 million with small businesses, which made up over 66% of the spend on goods and services. INL also exceeded all five of its specific small business spending goals, including small disadvantaged, HUBZone, women-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, and Idaho-based businesses.

This unusually high spend for goods and services occurred in large part due to the success of INL’s growing missions, including a thriving construction portfolio, expanding cybersecurity research and a heightened business need generated by the advanced nuclear projects slated for the INL desert site.

Along with these exciting new mission developments, the lab’s high attainment is especially impressive in light of the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presented to businesses. Standard spending habits decreased significantly during the beginning phases of the pandemic, and efforts instead shifted toward purchasing items necessary to keep the lab safe, including hand sanitizer, disinfectants and cleaning supplies, and masks, in addition to filling consistent PPE needs not related to COVID-19.

This shifted focus allowed the lab to support several local small businesses in their extraordinary efforts to provide innovative solutions to overwhelming need during the pandemic. Even as COVID-19-related needs die down, these lasting partnerships will continue to benefit INL and the southeastern Idaho community.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Moms Supporting Moms | Chynna Hansen, Little Mama Shirt Shop

Chynna Hansen, her husband, Tyler, and their three sons, owners of the eBusinees Little Mama Shirt Shop

On an initial investment of $400, Chynna Hansen started an online shirt shop as a way to make extra income to help pay household bills while her husband, Tyler, went to school. “I think I didn't know I was an entrepreneur, maybe even when I was,” she says now about the decision.

Chynna saw that graphic tees were gaining popularity but that most of them did not have a flattering fit. “It struck me one day. The name came to me first,” she said. She started with seven designs and worked with a local screen-printer. Starting on Etsy and then announcing it on Facebook live, the idea was a success. “It was a lot of hustle. We dumped everything into the business for the first seven months,” she said.

 Chynna is known for the saying "Bringing Up Boys" and has trademarked the saying as her design.
“I was meant to be my own boss -- even if that came with a lot of heartache and a lot of struggle, it was what I was meant to do,” she said. She admits that she hadn't really accepted that she has a business until last year. There wasn't a ton of pressure on the business and Chynna was able to focus on the LMSS community, which has since changed as her husband has left his full-time job and joined the company.

LMSS has a VIP group of around 8,000 members. Considering the group, Chynna admits that she's scared to grow it because she likes the intimacy of the group as it currently is. The VIP group provides early access to sales, advice, and general mom “stuff.” It's important to Chynna to be active in the group every day, and she feels the personal touch has made all the difference. She likes showing that they are truly a family business and look just like their customers.

“We have worked hard to build a reputation of always moms supporting moms,” she said. “We always say it's more than shirts.”

A lot of the moms resonate with the need for community. Looking back, Chynna recognizes that she was lonely as a mom raising her kids. It took courage to say to the world, but she knew she needed to do it for herself and for others who felt the same way. That made her want to create a place where mothers could share information and lift each other up with without judging each other.

Although followers and customers don't see everything that is happening behind the scenes, Chynna works hard to show her business model is pretty transparent. She came from an entrepreneurial family, but never really understood the impact that had on her. She admits she has had good mentors in her parents, and they have always been there to answer her questions based on their own experiences. Still, a lot of what she has learned has been by trial and error and by just diving in.

When asked about working with a spouse, Chynna admitted it can be difficult but said she loves it. “He has a lot of good ideas and has phrases for shirts too,” she said. When her husband recently left his full-time job it was a risk but she admitted she needed him to help grow the business.

Chynna said that they have a supportive community but it has not come without some critics. “With eCommerce, people forget that there is a person operating behind the screen. You can't please every person, but you can try,” she said. She has worked through it by just figuring it out, knowing she's not alone because she has the whole community of LMSS behind her. “We have to choose every day to go in the positive direction that works,” she said.

Scaling was more difficult than starting, she said. She and her team are working hard to find resources to solve the problems that arise, and even though that can be intimidating their team is committed to LMSS success.

The future of the business is always on Chynna's mind, and she and her husband are looking to bigger plans for the future. She says she's not looking for giant warehouses and hundreds of employees, but anything is possible.


For more information on Little Mama Shirt Shop, visit their website at https://littlemamashirtshop.com/. You can find LMSS on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/littlemamashirtshop and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/littlemamashirtshop/.

Business Leadership Moment

Job descriptions and role clarity. Are you experiencing a different role than what your job description says? Does it say leader and yet you are acting like a job support staff? Time to self examine!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Lindstedt earns Credentialed Cooperative Director certificate

Anna Lindstedt
Fall River Electric board member Anna Lindstedt of Driggs recently earned her Credentialed Cooperative Director certificate (CCD) from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which represents over 900 consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric providers in the United States.

This first part of NRECA’s three-part Director Education Program, the Credentialed Cooperative Director program, consists of five courses that focus on basic governance knowledge and the essential skills required of cooperative directors. The CCD prepares directors to fulfill their fiduciary duty as elected officials serving on behalf of their membership. Now that Lindstedt has completed her CCD, she can pursue the Board Leadership Certificate available through NRECA.

Fall River Electric’s by-laws require all board directors to complete certification as a cooperative
director which provides them with the essential skills required of co-op directors. “Our board has been impressed with Anna’s knowledge and at how dedicated she has been in accomplishing the training that is beneficial to the entire board,” said Dede Draper, president of Fall River’s board of directors.

Lindstedt is employed by Friends of the Teton River and has been in Teton Valley since 2004. She was elected last year from District 4, which includes the northeastern portion of Driggs, including the Alta area and then north along Highway 33 and east of N 500 W.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Idaho Women's Business Center to open office in Idaho Falls

The Idaho Women’s Business Center will be opening an office in at the Idaho Innovation Center in Idaho Falls, with a ceremonial kickoff event scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. Due to social distancing, a limited number of attendees will be able to participate live, but anyone interested in participating virtually can do so at www.IdahoWomen.org.

Launched by the U.S. Small Business Administration in July 2019, IWBC's mission is to support innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic empowerment for women across the state. Since its inception it has intended to have a statewide presence. In addition to the Idaho Falls office, another office will be opening in Moscow. The Idaho Falls office comes as a result of an technology innovation grant from Idaho National Laboratory. "After several meetings with INL, we knew that even though the pandemic has delayed our projections to open, we needed to push forward to be closer to our clients, said Megan Bryant, IWBC Director of Communication & Connections.

Cheryl O’Brien, a former INL senior executive, is the IWBC associate director for eastern Idaho. She brings a variety of experience to the position and her community connectivity to stakeholders locally will enhance IWBC's ability to leverage the existing ecosystem of resources.

Located at 2300 N. Yellowstone, the Idaho Innovation Center is a business incubator providing resources to small, fledgling companies, where entrepreneurs can confidently and aggressively start and grow their small businesses through collaboration, education, mentoring and shared resources. Resources onsite include the IIC, the Idaho Small Business Development Center, the Service Corp of Retired Executives, the Idaho Manufacturing Alliance, the University of Idaho, and Idaho State University.

Local, state and national leaders have been invited to the ceremony Tuesday, including Governor Brad
Little, U.S. Sen. James E. Risch, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper and Ammon Mayor Sean Coletti.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

DOE picks two companies for advanced reactor demonstration funding

The Natrium system from TerraPower and GE-Hitachi features a 345-MWe reactor and can be optimized for specific markets. For instance, its thermal storage has the potential to boost the system’s output to 500-MWe of power for more than five and a half hours when needed.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Tuesday it has selected two U.S.-based teams to receive $160 million in initial funding under the new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). ARDP, announced in May, is designed to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the United States.
DOE is awarding TerraPower LLC of Bellevue, Wash., and X-energy of Rockville, Md., $80 million each in initial funding to build two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years. The awards are cost-shared partnerships with industry that will deliver two first-of-a-kind advanced reactors to be licensed for commercial operations. The department will invest a total of $3.2 billion over seven years, subject to the availability of future appropriations, with industry partners providing matching funds.
“The awards are the first step of a new program that will strengthen American leadership in the next generation of nuclear technologies,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “These partnerships will help maximize DOE’s investment in advanced reactors, which play a vital role in our clean energy strategy.”

As DOE's lead laboratory for nuclear research and home of the National Reactor Innovation Center, Idaho National Laboratory will play a role in the projects' development.

"I congratulate TerraPower’s Natrium reactor and X-energy’s xe100 reactor for receiving the DOE's advanced reactor demonstration pathway awards," said INL Director Mark Peters. "Today marks a tremendous step forward in bringing advanced fission systems from concept to reality."
“Congratulations to all the innovators selected for their Advanced Reactor Demonstration Proposals,” said Ashley Finan, director of the National Reactor Innovation Center. “NRIC looks forward to working with each of you to deliver successful outcomes. These projects contribute to a diversity of designs, which will help achieve our commitment to demonstrating advanced reactors.”

GE Hitachi, TerraPower Team on Nuclear-Storage Hybrid SMR (Powermag.com, Sept. 3, 2020)

Specifically, TerraPower will demonstrate the Natrium reactor, a sodium‐cooled fast reactor that leverages decades of development and design undertaken by TerraPower and its partner, GE‐Hitachi. The high-operating temperature of the Natrium reactor, coupled with thermal energy storage, will allow the plant to provide flexible electricity output that complements variable renewable generation such as wind a solar. In addition, this project will establish a new metal fuel fabrication facility that is scaled to meet the needs of this demonstration program.
X-energy will deliver a commercial four-unit nuclear power plant based on its Xe-100 reactor design. The Xe-100 is a high temperature gas-cooled reactor that is ideally suited to provide flexible electricity output as well as process heat for a wide range of industrial heat applications, such as desalination and hydrogen production. The project will also deliver a commercial scale TRi-structural ISOtropic particle fuel (TRISO) fuel fabrication facility, leveraging DOE’s substantial investment in development of this highly robust fuel form.

The Xe-100 high temperature gas-cooled pebble bed modular nuclear power plant has a small physical footprint, only 200 meters by 100 meters with a small emergency planning zone, and a reduced water requirement which means it can be installed in a much wider range of potential locations compared to other clean energy solutions.

Both projects incorporate a range of design features that will not only enhance safety, but make them affordable to construct and operate, paving the way for the United States to deploy highly competitive advanced reactors domestically and globally.
“DOE and U.S. industry are extremely well-equipped to develop and demonstrate nuclear reactors with the requisite sense of urgency, which is important not only to our economy, but to our environment, because nuclear energy is clean energy,” said Dr. Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy.

X-Energy Steps Into The Ring With Its Advanced Pebble Bed Modular Nuclear Reactor (Forbes, March 27, 2017)

Congress appropriated $160 million for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget as initial funding for these demonstration projects. Funding beyond the near-term is contingent on additional future appropriations, evaluations of satisfactory progress and DOE approval of continuation applications. In addition, the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriation also provided initial year funding of $30 million for two to five Risk Reduction for Future Demonstrations projects and $20 million initial year funding for at least two Advanced Reactor Concepts-20 (ARC-20) projects. Awards for these projects are expected to be announced in December 2020. 
More information on the Office of Nuclear Energy and its programs can be found here.