Buy Local Conference Inspires New Partnerships

Good news came out of the Buy Local to Build AZ Conference held in Mesa on February 29. The event was attended by leaders across the state, such as Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and Local First Arizona Executive Director Kimber Lanning, and was intended to demonstrate the benefits of "going local" in purchasing habits across all sorts of industries significant to Arizona.

As recently reported by the Phoenix Business Journal, after attending the conference, the Mesa Chamber of Commerce and Mesa Public Schools have forged a partnership. Mesa Public Schools has announced it will "pro-actively seek out [Mesa] chamber members for purchases below $50,000" and "work with local companies on the process to compete for purchases above $50,000, which must follow a competitive bidding process."

This endeavor will greatly boost Mesa's local economy, as Mesa Public Schools spends tens of millions of dollars each year on items including school supplies, technical equipment, and food.  The East Valley Tribune agrees that this is the right move, and has written the following editorial discussing this decision and the benefits it will lead to:

Our View: Local-buy push by Mesa chamber, schools the right move in this or any economy

The Mesa Unified School District and the Mesa Chamber of Commerce deserve kudos for a new buy-local initiative.

The district spends more than $130 million for items ranging from lunch food to equipment to computers. It has many long-term vendors that get the business based on a bid. Many are out of state.

School officials have decided that more of the district’s funds need to be spent closer to home.

Bill Munch, purchasing director for the Mesa district, approached the chamber with the buy-local idea.

We agree that it is important that the school district try to use local vendors so that the money is kept in the community to support local businesses and job growth. The Mesa Chamber of Commerce has provided a list of its members so that they can be contacted when purchases are planned. They will get a chance to bid and eventually other Arizona businesses will have a chance to be on a contact list.

To help Mesa businesses pursue this business, Mesa chamber President Peter Sterling said the chamber will offer workshops to train businesses on doing business with the district. The goal is to make it easy to understand how to pursue the school district’s purchases...

You can read the rest of the editorial at the East Valley Tribune.  We look forward to all the new partnerships that will be formed like this one between Mesa Public Schools and the Mesa Chamber of Commerce!  They have demonstrated that together, we can easily work to improve our economy and community.