Small businesses can contribute great things to projects of all sizes. That’s why the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Mentor-Protégé Program sets out to help small businesses learn from and leverage the strength and resources of an experienced government contractor.

Through this program, our environmental team has aligned with Bluestone Environmental Group, an 8(a) women-owned small business based in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Bluestone specializes in environmental engineering consulting, with extensive experience in environmental compliance, permitting, regulatory reporting and environmental investigation.

Burns & McDonnell serves as a business mentor to Bluestone, providing a broad range of business development. The objective is to enhance capabilities and help position Bluestone in the federal marketplace for long-term future growth, stability and success.

This partnership opens opportunities for both parties, especially as joint ventures in government contracting become increasingly popular. For Bluestone, this offers a chance to be backed by a large company to take on more complex projects, accommodate surges in its business and provide access to administrative tools not typical of small business. For Burns & McDonnell, it presents an opportunity to compete for procurements designated for small businesses. It also allows our team to collaborate with a small business partner with a similar work ethic and dedication to client service.

This program has a specific focus on federal contract support as well as general internal business management support — everything from accounting and marketing to human resources, organizational development and strategic planning. Our team is working closely with Bluestone to share lessons learned and best practices for navigating federal contract bidding, acquisition and the federal procurement process. We are also partnering with Bluestone on business development, strategic initiatives and identifying partnership opportunities outside of the federal space to diversify its overall portfolio and foster future stability.

Bluestone brings a more diverse supplier base to meet the demands of any project. Small companies, like Bluestone, can often be more agile and innovative in their approach to executing projects. This helps us successfully execute projects together, especially in the communities where the small or diverse businesses may operate. As we work together to create mutually beneficial pathways to future growth, we are also opening doors to new partnerships and a shared network.

For this relationship to result in success, we have collectively established realistic expectations. This includes a commitment to pursuing opportunities that neither entity could pursue alone, as well as a commitment to mutual investment, benefit and growth. Our team also partners on marketing and sales visits. These commitments are often met through regular and open communications. Bluestone and Burns & McDonnell will participate in this program for at least one year, seeking out various projects to collaborate on and strengthening each organization for the future.


Our quarterly business diversity newsletter seeks to advance a community of inclusion. It features stories of great opportunity, leaders who bring out the best in others, innovative approaches, and diverse perspectives that shape the business community and the world at large.

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