Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Locals first' contracting urged for Tampa

TAMPA — Local business owners urged the City Council on Thursday to develop a policy that would favor area businesses when awarding city contracts.

"No one is saying local only. We're saying local first," said Carla Jimenez, owner of the independent book store Inkwood Books.

The concept of giving preference to local vendors was first proposed by council member Mary Mulhern last year. In the current economic crisis, she said, it is particularly important for the city to spend its money close to home.

"We have a local responsibility to find ways to save jobs in Tampa," she said.

Council members debated the issue after hearing a report from city purchasing director Greg Spearman, who warned that giving preference to local vendors could reduce competition, drive up costs and prompt surrounding governments to institute similar policies that would keep local businesses from doing work in other locations.

Several Florida cities and counties — including Hollywood, Lakeland and Broward County — have such policies. Generally, they allow local businesses to win contracts even if they cost a little more than contracts with companies based outside the region.

Spearman said Tampa already awards 84 percent of about $200 million in contracts to businesses in the five-county area surrounding Tampa, implying that the city spends plenty of money locally.

Those contracts, though, include national companies with Tampa Bay area offices.

Mulhern said maybe the definition of a local business needs to change to include only those headquartered here. And she wants to see more data to illustrate the downside of giving preferences to those companies.

"There's a growing consensus among economists, liberal and conservative, that local is going to save us," she said.

Council member John Dingfelder said awarding Tampa's contracts to nearby businesses would be akin to creating a home-grown economic stimulus package.

Jimenez, who acknowledged that as a bookstore owner she wouldn't benefit from such a policy, cited studies showing the benefits of spending locally.

She said that for every dollar spent at a local business, about 45 cents stays in the local economy, while the same dollar spent in a national chain keeps only about 13 cents local.

By a vote of 6-1, the council directed Spearman to get together with advocates of a local vendor preference policy and report back in May with recommendations.

Council member Charlie Miranda cast the dissenting vote, saying the issue warranted no further discussion. He argued that such a preference would mean contracts would not always go to the lowest bidder.

"It is not in the best interest of the general taxpayers of this city to do this," he said.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

'Locals first' contracting urged for Tampa 02/26/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 27, 2009 12:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility

    World

    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia

    World

    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]