A bid preference ordinance that would benefit locally headquartered businesses was proposed by the Imperial Valley Independent Business Alliance to the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The bid preference would give a 5 to 10 percent preference in government contracts when a business is headquartered in the county, regardless of its size, and bids, said Paul McManus, president of IVIBA.
“We propose that you pass a resolution that would direct your purchasing department to always look for a local source first before dealing with outside vendors,” McManus said to the board.
Through his presentation McManus also introduced IVIBA to the Board of Supervisors with a 30-minute presentation.
IVIBA was founded last June and has about 400 members, McManus said to the board. The membership is expected to rise to more than 1,500 members by the end of 2012, he said.
Unlike the chambers of commerce that represent all businesses in a geographic area, IVIBA represents only local independent businesses, McManus said, adding there is a benefit to local businesses in having independent businesses alliances in the community and buying local.
“When someone spends money at a local independent business the money remains in the community and circulates three times as much,” compared to a local branch of a national chain store, he said. This happens because when a locally owned business profits, the revenue stays in the community instead of going to the headquarters, he said.
Also, “the good jobs, if you will, are all back at the headquarters,” McManus said.
The Imperial County Joint Chambers of Commerce is in support of the idea of encouraging local business, but not necessarily locally headquartered business, said former Joint Chambers president Aaron Popejoy, who was present at the meeting.
“What we are advocating for is local and I think that’s definitely our common ground here,” Popejoy said.
If a company has invested in the county and employs hundreds of people, the Joint Chambers can’t favor locally headquartered business that competes with such company, he said.
“We (the joint chambers) simply want you to consider preference for businesses that are here in Imperial County,” Popejoy said to the Board of Supervisors.
“I think that is a very good idea,” Supervisor Michael Kelley said. “I think it’s prudent that the county counsel look into that issue and come back to the board with some guidelines,” he said.
Supervisor Gary Wyatt agreed with the idea but said “we need to set some parameters.” Los Angeles, which has a bid preference, has a $100,000 cap, Wyatt said. There is also a need to define what is a small business, he said.
On the other side, a bid preference will cost more money to the county, Wyatt said. “I’m not saying that I’m not for it, but we need to be cognizant of that.”
When a bid preference starts there is an initial cost, IVIBA member Josh Mercado said. But the money stays in the community instead of “leaking out,” he said. “We need to look at the bigger picture.”
A $250,000 cap and a 5 percent preference were suggested by Wyatt and the direction given to staff. He also asked county counsel to define “local business” and “small business.”
A “full-blown” discussion on the ordinance could come before the board in a month, County Executive Officer Ralph Cordova said.
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org