Studies show more than twice as much money stays in a local economy when spent at local businesses rather than outside firms. Washtenaw County spent $47 million on contracts in 2012 and county officials want to boost the amount staying in the area. The County Commissioners Ways and Means Committee tonight considers a local vendor preference purchasing policy.
The county already has in place a general policy encouraging the use of local businesses, but it lacked specifics. The new proposal gives Washtenaw County based businesses a five percent discount on bids between $5,000 and $200,000 and a two percent discount for larger bids. State based firms also receive specific discounts based on the size of the bids.
Chair of the County Commissioners Yousef Rabhi says the policy was developed with help from the Washtenaw Food Policy Council and the Office of Community and Economic Development. "I think that this is the right thing to do. It's, you know, the right thing to do for our economy. It's the right thing to do for our community, and other communities have done it before. So, you know, we just have to learn from what they experienced," Rabhi says.
Some of the communities the county is learning from include Grand Rapids and Macomb County.
The policy doesn't apply for federally funded programs that prohibit a preference.
If approved by the Ways and Means Committee tonight, the policy will be considered by the full board at their November 19th meeting.