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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hillsborough County to consider local vendor preference ordinance

3

August

Hillsborough County government is revisiting an idea that it has shunned before.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to explore creating an ordinance that would give preference to local businesses when the county contracts for goods and services. Unlike in year's past when the idea has been suggested, Democrat Commissioner Les Miller recommended that the county adopt a more regional approach.

So instead of giving preference to Hillsborough County businesses, the ordinance would also recognize companies from adjacent counties: Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Manatee counties. Miller's proposal, patterned after ordinances in other counties, including Manatee, also wouldn't simply weight bids in favor of local companies. It would enable those businesses to lower their offer to match a low bidder if their original submission was close in value to that lower bidder

For instance, if a contract for less than $50,000 is advertised, and a local business submitted an offer within 5 percent of the low bidder, the local company would be asked if it is willing to match the lower offer. On more expensive items, the local bidder would need to have been within a closer margin.

Past commissions have taken up the idea before. But the county's economic development advisors, and some business owners, have recommended against it. The concern is that it could drive up costs, or it could result in other governments adopting similar ordinances that would preclude Hillsborough County businesses from winning work in those jurisdictions.

The more regional approach seeks to ameliorate that concern.

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 2:21pm]

    

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