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Local bidding gets boost
Commission makes tweaks to business initiative
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Forsyth County News

Officials are taking steps they hope will better position local businesses bidding on Forsyth County contracts.

The county commission voted 5-0 at a work session Tuesday to expand the scope of a local business initiative, which gives a boost to firms within the county vying for contracts.

Essentially, if two companies compete for a project, the county would choose the local business’s bid as long as it was not more than a certain percentage higher than that of an out-of county firm.

Commissioners increased that figure from 3 to 5 percent, among other changes, on Tuesday.

The commission also removed the employee cap and the limit on a business’ annual gross income, while upping the scope of county projects available under the initiative from $100,000 to $500,000.

Commissioner Patrick Bell, who first proposed the initiative, said he’d heard the previous stipulations, which limited number of employees and annual receipts total, were too stringent.

"The economy continues to struggle, and I’m of the mind to remove some of those so that any Forsyth County business would qualify," Bell said.

The policy, first approved in April 2009, has had little impact on local businesses under the current qualifying stipulations, said Donna Kukarola, the county’s procurement director.

Changes made in 2010 increased the limit for employees and gross receipts, which did open up the initiative to more local businesses, Kukarola said.

However, she said she’s not yet seen a significant benefit from the program.

For 2011, through September, about 2,300 proposals were submitted under the initiative.

Of those, 10 effectively received a contract due to the program, for a cost of about $550 to the county, Kukarola said.

For any solicitation or bid, vendors hoping to receive local preference through the policy must demonstrate they satisfy all requirements.

This must be done each time a vendor submits a bid, quote or proposal and would like to be considered under the initiative.

Other requirements include: a banking relationship with a local branch, the principal office location must be in the county and at least 33 percent of the employees must live in Forsyth County.

Commissioner Todd Levent said that requirement allows the county to reap the benefits of the initiative through sales tax.

"If people work here, live here and have a business here, then the county will far receive more than that in revenue," Levent said.

"Employees will take those funds and buy lunches, gas and such in the county."