City, county and state agencies can keep millions of dollars recirculating in our local economy. Local businesses play a part in that by being front and center in procurement processes. On Friday April 8th, the 18th Annual Southern Arizona Procurement Fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kino Sports Complex, 2500 E. Ajo Way. Local First Arizona will be on hand at the procurement fair with free bookmarks of "7 important questions to ask procurement officials". Stop by the Local First AZ table to pick up your bookmark. Sponsored by Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, City of Tucson Housing and Community Development, and Pima County Procurement, this event is an opportunity for business owners to meet with the officials making important buying decisions in our community. The event also includes free workshops to help business owners with the ins and outs of procurement processes. The first workshop starts at 9:30 am and the topics are "Airforce Contracting" Presented by Davis-Monthan AFB, " Breaking through Barriers with Procurement” Presented by: Victoria Cortinas, City of Tucson & Terri Spencer, Pima County and ChallengeHER: “Opportunities for Women in Federal Contracting.” The Women-Owned Small Business Set Aside Program, Presented by: Lin Stuart, Procurement Education Director, Women Impacting Public Policy
Local First Arizona worked with Civic Economics to examine the impact of including locally owned businesses in government procurement. A comprehensive analysis showed that moving the state’s office supplies contract from a national chain to a local supplier could generate nearly three times the economic impact. “For example, assume a single government entity in the State of Arizona purchases $5 Million worth of widgets each year. If that contract were made through Office Max Contract, only $580,000 would remain in the state of Arizona at the end of the year. If the same contract were made through Wist or a similarly situated local supplier, an additional $1 Million would find its way to the people of Arizona,” states the study. Based on these findings, the City of Phoenix looked at ways to incorporate more local business in it’s procurement process. Phoenix created a Local Small Business Enterprise Program which includes a database to register small and local businesses. According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, “After just one year, the LSBE Program had achieved a measurable impact. In 2011, Phoenix spent just $50,000 with small, local businesses. By 2013, that figure had jumped to $2.3 million.”
City of Tucson also works with several locally owned businesses. Marcheta E. Gillespie, the Director of Procurement for the City of Tucson, spoke with Local First Arizona staff about the City’s work to find and support local businesses. “We are looking to see who is ready, willing and able,” comments Gillespie. Gillespie recommends that businesses become familiar with all the services the City offers. “Make sure you are a registered vendor in the City of Tucson database,” advises Gillespie. Gillespie also recommends that qualified business apply for SBE (Small Business Enterprise) and DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) certifications. The DBE program is designed to provide opportunity on federally funded projects for socially or economically disadvantaged firms. Minority, woman-owned or businesses owned by a majority owner who can demonstrate social and economic disadvantage can register for the DBE program. More information can be found here. According to Gillespie, “Once a firm has become certified, they are listed in one database. This database can be accessed by anyone who is looking for a DBE in any particular trade area.” Registering in the database puts a business in front of several agencies at once. The State of Arizona, ADOT, Pima County and The City of Tucson all utilize DBE firms on several projects each year. While registering with many different systems can seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. “We know it can be tough and we have services to help,” comments Gillespie.
Not only do City contracts awarded to local businesses keep more dollars circulating in Tucson, but local business have a vested interest in supporting the city. Arizona and family owned company, Goodmans Interior Structures has serviced several City of Tucson contracts including work for the Tucson Fire Central. "As a locally owned business, our staff at Goodmans are proud to service contracts for the Tucson Fire Department. We have an office in Tucson. We live here. These are the firefighters that protect our businesses and homes and it means a lot for us to support them," comments Michele Wright, an account manager for Goodmans. Kimber Lanning and the Southern Arizona Local First AZ staff recently toured the Tucson Fire Logistics warehouse with Assistant Fire Chief, Joe Gulotta, to get a sense of the challenges in the procurement process. The central warehouse for the Tucson Fire Department is responsible for supplying 22 stations with over 750 employees. Chief Gulotta showed the Local First AZ staff how the central warehouse is responsible for supplying everything from mattresses and dishsoap to fire trucks and chainsaws. “When you see the scope of what gets purchased, you realize there is a lot of opportunity for many different kinds of local businesses to get involved in the process,” comments Tucson Membership Coordinator, CJ Agbannawag.