The Horry County Infrastructure and Regulation committee voted Thursday to recommend a local vendor preference resolution, but it seems mostly for the full County Council to discuss the issue rather than receiving the committee’s full support.
The county has talked about crafting an ordinance or resolution for the last 12 years or so, council members have said.
Horry County officials amended the initial plan from offering local vendor preference to those bidding on projects between $25,000 and $100,000 to also include those bidding on projects between $100,000 and $10 million. For projects between $25,000 and $100,000, if the local vendor is within 5 percent of the lowest bid, it can amend its bid to match the lowest bid. If the project is between $100,000 and $10 million, the local vendor must be within 2 percent of the lowest bid to be able to match it.
Local vendor was also defined further as one with its principle place of business in Horry County and the majority of its employees from Horry County. The move is expected to create a little more administrative work for the county’s office of procurement, but that didn’t deter council members to send it with a positive recommendation for full council to consider.
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Places like Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Georgetown and Charleston County use to encourage local companies to bid projects and keep jobs local.
Councilman Gary Loftus asked if having a local vendor preference resolution on file puts a “chill” on outside companies who may want to bid on Horry County projects. One out of five municipalities surveyed said some vendors indicated they would not bid in a county with local vendor preference, while others either didn’t know or did not see a reduction in bids.
Councilman Jody Prince said he doesn’t want the resolution to impact quality or quantity of bids.
“I don’t want to lose bidders,” he said.
Loftus said he did not understand why this issue was being brought up.
“If we’re not having problems... then why create one?” he said. “Are we passing this just to feel good?”
Councilman Paul Prince said he didn’t think the issue should be sent to full council yet.
“I haven’t had any calls from local businesses to do this,” Paul Prince said.
Of the 72 contracts Horry County awarded in a two-year span, 18 were awarded to companies outside the county. Five of those projects would have fallen within the percentage parameters of the $25,000 to $100,000 proposed resolution. County officials have not studied how many projects would have been impacted in the $100,000 to $10 million project proposal. About 80 percent of the county’s building projects from 2008 to 2011 went to Horry County contractors and all local road improvement projects during that time frame stayed local.
Councilman Bob Grabowski said the resolution gives the county a chance to back its businesses.
“I think it sends a clear message that this council is serious about hiring local businesses,” Grabowski said.
The council plans to discuss local vendor preference at its Oct. 15 meeting.