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Argonne puts out welcome mat for businesses

Ahmad Soueid, principal and senior vice-president of HDR Architecture, Inc., signs a shovel used during the groundbreaking for the new Energy Sciences Building at Argonne National Laboratory Friday, June 3, 2011, at 9700 S. Cass Ave. in Argonne. HDR is the architect for the building. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
(From left to right) U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Robert Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Eric Isaacs, director of Argonne National Laboratory, shovel dirt during a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Energy Sciences Building at Argonne National Laboratory Friday, June 3, 2011, at 9700 S. Cass Ave. in Argonne. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Strucral biology center Macromolecular crystallographer Stephan L. Ginell with the robot used to freeze and mount the protein crystal in the x-ray and microscope machine.    Supplied photo

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It takes more than lasers and test tubes to perform the work that goes on each day at Argonne National Laboratory in Darien.

Each year the facility spends $300 million on procurements from other businesses, and on Aug. 21, area businesses can find out how they might become one of them.

“There’s a perception that there is a wall around Argonne,” said Alex Mitchell, digital media specialist in Argonne’s department of communications, education and public affairs.

And although security at the laboratory on Cass Avenue in Darien is important, Mitchell said the facility is and wants to be part of the community.

“We’re trying to, as much as we can, throw the doors open,” he said.

The small business outreach event will share opportunities to supply goods and services not only to Argonne, but also to Fermi National Laboratories. To spread the word about the opportunity, the facilities enlisted the help of U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-11th of Naperville, Randy Hultgren, R-14th of Winfield, and Dan Lipinski, D-3rd of Western Springs, each of whom will offer opening remarks at the Aug. 21 event.

“We are extremely fortunate to have not just one, but two of the country’s finest Department of Energy national laboratories in our region,” Lipinski said. “Unfortunately, not many people know about the business opportunities at these labs. I am hopeful that events such as these will help small business owners and start-up companies learn more about the wide array of opportunities available at both facilities.”

Susanne Hogan, president of dsi Association Inc. in Burr Ridge, is eager to learn more about opportunities for her construction management business.

“I certainly commend them for allowing folks to come in and see where there are opportunities,” said Hogan.

Construction services, health management support, lab equipment and equipment repair and maintenance are just a few of the many goods and services needed to operate the laboratories.

Sue Cappuccilli and John O’Donnell of Integrated Business Systems in Oak Brook are among about 100 participants from 80 area companies who have accepted invitations to attend.

“We have lots of experts in a lot of different areas,” said Cappuccilli.

By attending, she hopes to find new ways for the company to provide information technology to Argonne and Fermi labs.

“We’re seeing this as a networking opportunity,” Cappuccilli said.

Mitchell said he hopes it is the start of many ongoing business relationships with area companies.

“We plan to have meetings like this perhaps once or twice a year going forward, so we feel this is the beginning of a new era of cooperation between Argonne and small businesses/startups,” he said.

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