“Goodyear talks very openly about how the use of our technology has helped its business,” Dr. Rottler said.
Sandia also engages in programs to contribute to development of New Mexico’s economy. They include the Sandia Science and Technology Park; a small-business assistance program in collaboration with the state of New Mexico and Los Alamos National Laboratory; an “open campus” in Livermore, California, dedicated to green energy and transportation; and a program called Entrepreneurial Separation to Transfer Technology. This program supports Sandia employees who want to leave and start a new business, but also want to be able to return should the experience not work out.
The science and technology park has enjoyed considerable success, Dr. Rottler said. The park is a public-private partnership conceived 12 years ago. It now has 30 tenants and accounts for nearly 2,000 jobs in Albuquerque. The park’s tenants include companies with names like Ktech, ATA, Poly-Flow Engineering, TEAM Technologies, and Emcore, some of which are spin-offs of the lab and that still collaborate with Sandia.
The jobs in the science park, moreover, pay salaries that are twice as high as the Albuquerque average. “For a state such as New Mexico, which still tends to rank at the bottom of many national statistics, this is something that the city, the county, the state, and our laboratory are quite proud of,” Dr. Rottler said. The park has a “very aggressive” goal to account for 6,000 jobs 10 years from now. Construction has been under way at the park for the past 142 months, he added.
The New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program, established 10 years ago, is made possible by state tax credits, Dr. Rottler noted. Sandia and Los Alamos, which pay taxes on gross receipts, each get $2.4 million in credits to support small New Mexico businesses. The program allows small businesses with technical problems to come to the labs for assistance from staff.
The assistance program is credited with creating and retaining 1,020 small-business jobs across the state. One study estimated that the assistance program produced a return on investment for the state of $1.34 for every $1 in tax credits. The program has been so successful that a proposal by a legislator to eliminate the credit was defeated, Dr. Rottler said, despite the state’s budget crisis. “The bill died without going to the floor.”
Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are developing another regional cluster around their campuses in California, which have historically been dedicated to nuclear weapons and other national security work. Certain facilities will remain “inside the fence” and focus on national defense, Dr. Rottler said. Other facilities are being converted into an “open campus” that is a partnership between the laboratories and the city of Livermore. It will be devoted to industry partnerships in green transportation and renewable energy.
Dr. Rottler said the two labs developed their proposal to create the Livermore Valley Open Campus several years ago. Now it has gotten “sufficient support from the Department of Energy, so we are going forward with this,” he said.