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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Michigan Focusing On State Companies For State Contracts

LANSING - In its continuing effort to ensure that Michigan-based businesses are in the forefront of receiving state contracts, Michigan Department of Management and Budget Director Lisa Webb Sharpe on Monday said officials are embarking on a statewide tour to generate more buzz about the program so that 90 percent, or a 5 percent increase, of state contracts are awarded to in-state firms.

Currently 85 percent of the $11 billion in state contracts are awarded to Michigan-based companies - an initiative started by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who cut out sole-source contracting ($1 of every $5 of state money used to go toward these contracts) except in cases of emergency and also instilled a program of all else being equal, buy Michigan, officials said.

"Everyone understands self preservation," Webb Sharpe said, adding that the state uses a best value calculation when it comes to awarding contracts from all departments. The calculation provides for input on whether the contract would create jobs in Michigan, she said.

The Buy Michigan First initiative also targets small, minority or women-owned businesses or firms that are owned by disable veterans or a person with a disability by sharing information on how those companies can compete at the state contracting level. Besides seminars, all of the state's contract work is posted online at BuyMichiganFirstMichigan so that companies are prepared for what's coming up in the future, Webb Sharpe said.

The web site also provides a registration for vendors in the state, something officials are looking to increase as awareness grows, she said.

Jacqueline Shinn, interim deputy director of the Department of Transportation, said that of the $11 billion, $2.4 billion is used for projects within her department, creating more than 20,000 jobs each year. "Those investment dollars translate into jobs," she said.

Most of the transportation contracting in the state is for highway and bridge work.

Sean Carlson, chief procurement officer for DMB, said officials are looking at every corner of the state to find opportunities, whether it be to provide a contract to a Michigan-based company instead of an out-of-state firm or whether it's to help smaller businesses work on being able to apply for a state contract.

The Department of Community Health used to receive its audits through an out-of-state firm, Carlson said, but through the program a Detroit-based, women-owned company now controls the $1.1 million contract.

"We are not sacrificing quality,'' he said. "We have a lot of good businesses in Michigan."

Another firm that used to operate the call centers for campground reservations out of Florida also is creating jobs in Michigan through the program, Carlson said, because the state required that the centers be located in state. The center in Iron River is expected to create 40 jobs, he said.

Competitive bidding has occurred as the state sought out more firms in the process, he said, adding that the state now receives all its paper from an Ada-based company, saving 32 percent of what it used to pay to an out-of-state company.

While other states are providing a set aside program to target their in-state firms or "disadvantaged" companies, Webb Sharpe said that Michigan is the only state to create this type of aggressive program.

The program is a collaboration between the DMB, MDOT, Governor's Office, departments of Agriculture, Information Technology and Civil Rights, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Centers and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers throughout Michigan.

Representatives from those agencies will be touring the following locations to promote the Buy Michigan First program:

Lake Michigan College, 5 p.m., Thursday

Mott Community College, 8 a.m., April 20

Washtenaw Community College, 5 p.m., April 25

Northwestern Michigan College, 5 p.m., May 9

Alpena Community College, 2 p.m., May 10

Grand Rapids Community College, 8 a.m., May 16

Kalamazoo Valley Community College, noon, May 16

Delta College, 8 a.m., May 18

Oakland Community College, 8 a.m., May 25

Macomb Community College, noon, May 25

Lansing Community College, noon, June 7

Henry Ford Community College, 8 a.m., June 8

This story was provided by Gongwer News Service. To subscribe, click on Gongwer.Com


Author: Staff Writer
Source: Gongwer News Service


 
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