Horry County local vendor law gains popularity, keeps jobs local

Horry County officials are touting the eight-month-old local vendor preference law as a success because of the number of businesses that applied, even though only one of nine projects was awarded locally because of the new law.

The county’s administration committee learned Friday there were nine projects with invitations for bids that fell into the applicable local vendor preference resolution passed in October. The resolution was adopted to allow locally based businesses a second chance at bidding on a project if it was the second lowest bidder to an outside firm.

Those bidding on projects between $25,000 and $100,000 must be within 5 percent of the lowest bid and 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.

Kim Massie, an official with the county’s procurement department, said out of 23 local vendors who submitted bids, 21 submitted local vendor preference affidavits with their bids, which is a requirement to try and match the lowest bidder.

“As you can see we’re getting a lot more local bidders than non-local bidders,” Massie said. She said the projects ranged from $85,000 to $9 million and included projects such as pavement marking services, road construction, parking lot improvements and fencing.

The resolution was 12 years in the making and didn’t gain traction until mid-2013. Places like Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Georgetown and Charleston County use local vendor preference laws to encourage local companies to bid projects and keep jobs local.

Horry County officials knew the new law might not make a drastic difference. Before it was implemented in 2013, a county study showed that 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.

Chairman Mark Lazarus said he’s happy about the law, even though it only benefited one local company so far.

“It actually made us money because we got the lower bid and we put local people to work,” Lazarus said.