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Washtenaw County Looking To Boost Contracts With Local Businesses

Washtenaw County
Andrew Cluley
89.1 WEMU

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 WashtenawCounty 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 YousefRabhi says the policy was developed with help from the WashtenawFood 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.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at734.487.3363 or email him acluley@emich.edu. 

Like many, I first came to this area when I started school at the University of Michigan, then fell in love with the community and haven’t left. After graduating from U of M in the mid 1990’s I interned at WDET for several years, while also working a variety of jobs in Ann Arbor. Then in 1999 I joined the WEMU news team.
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