IDAHO FALLS Eagle Rock Specialties President Mike Hendrickson didnt know why a contractor at the Department of Energys desert site needed an order of long underwear.
Nor did he know why another contractor ordered jars upon jars of peanut butter.
But he doesnt ask questions.
We cater to (the contractors), Hendrickson said. Whatever they want, we go out of our way to find it.
Hendrickson and his daughter have since 2009 supplied contractors at the Idaho National Laboratory whatever they need to do business, just one of many of eastern Idaho businesses that cater to companies like Battelle Energy Alliance, Idaho Treatment Group and CH2M-WG Idaho LLC, known as CWI.
In addition to the hundreds of millions those contractors have pumped into eastern Idahos economy since 2008, their business has created 16,000 jobs statewide, Department of Labor spokesman Will Jenson said. One out of every five jobs in eastern Idaho exists because of the (site), Jenson said.
The Department of Energy nuclear research facility in eastern Idaho has more than 8,000 people working directly for the government or its contractors in Idaho, making it the second-largest employer in the state (behind state government), according to a Boise State study.
The spendings effect ripples through the wider economy, benefiting restaurants, real estate agents and repair shops and creating new jobs, new spending and new businesses a total of $3.5 billion in economic impact, according to the 2010 report by BSU economists. And most of the money that INL spends creating jobs and commerce in Idaho comes from out of the state, the economists noted.
VALVES TO BARBECUES
Battelle, for example, does 30 percent of its business within Idaho every year, said Stacey Francis, INLs small business program manager.
Local businesses and businesses within Idaho, period, are very important to us, Francis said.
Eagle Rock fills 30 orders a day from the site contractors, everything from coffee pots to pipe valves to barbecue grills, Hendrickson said. Orders from site contractors account for 95 percent of Eagle Rocks business.
CompuSmart, a computer repair and service company, also relies almost solely on site contractors, specifically Battelle Energy Alliance and CWI, for business.
The company sells Microsoft and Adobe licensing products and software updates, owner Tim Brockish said.
Sometimes people get their standard set of computers but want more memory and bigger hard drives, Brockish said. We provide that to them.
Bonneville Industrial Supply Company doesnt rely exclusively on site contractors, but the contractors generate about a third of the companys business, President LaVar Thacker said. The company sells site contractors everything from hand tools to safety equipment. Bonneville Industrial has been working with contractors at the site for 48 years, Thacker said.
Its a big (enough) part of our business that) in the bad years you have to search for business elsewhere, as much as you can, he said.