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S&K Electronics signs mentor-protégé agreement with defense contractor

By Lailani Upham
Char-Koosta News

Tribal Council representatives, Salish Kootenai College staff, liaisons from Senators Tester and Daines and Congressman Gianforte join representatives from Northrop-Grumman to sign a three-year mentor-protégé agreement with S&K Electronics. (Lailani Upham photo) Tribal Council representatives, Salish Kootenai College staff, liaisons from Senators Tester and Daines and Congressman Gianforte join representatives from Northrop-Grumman to sign a three-year mentor-protégé agreement with S&K Electronics. (Lailani Upham photo)

PABLO — S&K Electronics, a Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal electronics manufacturing company, is ready to grow as a consequence of a protégé-mentor agreement with Northrup Grumman.

S&K Electronics signed a three-year Department of Defense agreement with Northrup Grumman to enhance technology capabilities and development on Thursday, November 16.

The Mentor-Protégé Program encourages major DOD prime contractors to develop the technical and business capabilities of: small disadvantaged businesses; women-owned small businesses; service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses; historically underutilized business (HUB) Zone small businesses; and organizations employing severely disabled individuals.

Salish Kootenai College President Sandra Boham welcome Northrup Grumman and Air Force representatives at a luncheon to bring together technology students, faculty and Northrup Grumman agreement officials. (Lailani Upham photo) Salish Kootenai College President Sandra Boham welcome Northrup Grumman and Air Force representatives at a luncheon to bring together technology students, faculty and Northrup Grumman agreement officials. (Lailani Upham photo)

In attendance were members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal council, tribal liaison representatives from Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Steve Daines and Congressman Greg Gianforte, and Sandra Boham, SKC president and SKC Foundation staff.

Larry Hall, SKE president and general manager acknowledged the attendance of CSKT council members. “They are the rock force of SKE. They are the real owners.”

Since the start of the Mentor-Protégé Program in 1991, Northrop Grumman representatives have provided guidance to more than 130 small businesses. Northrop Grumman has won 23 Department of Defense Nunn-Perry awards, the most awards of any prime contractor.

A large percentage of manufacturing coming out of S&K Electronics is defense related.

The Mentor-Protégé program includes SKC in the training task of the agreement to use students in engineering and technical programs to work along with SKE in development phases.

Larry Hall, S and K Electronics General Manager and Northrup Grumman representative Steve Michaels and Air Force representative David Sikora sign the Mentor-Protégé Program in unison at the S and K Electronics headquarters on Thursday, November 16. (Lailani Upham photo) Larry Hall, S and K Electronics General Manager and Northrup Grumman representative Steve Michaels and Air Force representative David Sikora sign the Mentor-Protégé Program in unison at the S and K Electronics headquarters on Thursday, November 16. (Lailani Upham photo)

“This agreement marks important efforts to increase qualified, HUBZone and Native-owned small business participation in Defense programs and provide hands-on training opportunities for students just down the road at Salish Kootenai College,” stated Sen. Jon Tester.

Michael LaValley, Sen. Tester’s tribal liaison carried the message to the ceremony. Tester stated that S&K Electronics produces technology that helps keep not only Montana but the country safe he said. “As conflicts around the globe transition from battlefields to cyber networks, S&K Electronics is uniquely positioned to keep Americans safe. If it is supplying critical equipment and services to the Air Force or designing the first line of defense against cyber warfare, S&K Electronics has been there to answer the call.”

Tester called SKE a real Montana success story in Indian Country. “I know that the strong leadership and quality workforce at S&K will continue to drive the local economy and make a real difference.

SKC board and technology faculty hold a luncheon for students and Northrup Grumman officials to meet and greet. (Lailani Upham photo)  SKC board and technology faculty hold a luncheon for students and Northrup Grumman officials to meet and greet. (Lailani Upham photo)

Congressman Greg Gianforte also congratulated SKE through a letter read by tribal liaison Misty Kuhl, stating the successful participation in the program will build a legacy of added and increased economic development in Montana.

Sen. Steve Daines statement echoed opportunity through the Mentor-Protégé agreement to expand economic development in Montana.

“This agreement will continue to build and strengthen the valuable human capital at S&K Electronics helping the enterprise to achieve its mission of profitable long-term sustainable employment for the people who reside on the CSKT Reservation,” stated Daines.

“I understand the arduous amount of work and dedication it takes to form a functioning enterprise. The Department of Defense’s mentorship program is an extraordinary opportunity to help you further develop your business and learn from some of the best,” stated Gianforte.

Gianforte stated knowing the countless innovations and technologies developed through the program and expressed excitement and pride for SKE in breaking ground for other tribal communities.

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