Hire Houston First
Is Mayor Parker's SLGT business plan good for Houston? Local contractors willenjoy an edge
“Support Local Businesses” is now more than a common, catchy slogan with the Houston City Council passing an ordinance favoring locally based companies in awarding city contracts.
Mayor Annise Parker’s program “Hire Houston First” was given the council’s final stamp of approval Wednesday, and will redirect the way city contracts are awarded to favor local businesses since they have a better understanding of local conditions, councilmembers said.
“In these tough times, we should be doing all we can to create new jobs and keep Houstonians working,” Parker said in a press release. “Hire Houston First will do just that.”
“As long as their pricing is competitive, I want to ensure preference is given to local contractors,” Parker said.
The ordinance benefits local businesses by granting them more contracts and incentivizing them to hire local workers, which Parker says will generate more economic activity and will produce a higher tax revenue.
“As long as their pricing is competitive, I want to ensure preference is given to local contractors,” Parker said. “Hire Houston First will be a set of incentives and policies that ensure that our local tax dollars are spent in our community as much as possible.”
But just because a business is local does not mean it will automatically get the job. For city contracts less than $100,000, the city will award a local firm the job only if its price is within five percent of the lowest bid from an out-of-town company. For contracts more than $100,000, local vendors will have to be within a three-percent difference of the closest out-of-town bid.
Council members debated what precisely made a business local and concluded that its headquarters must be located within the city limits and that it must draw at least 20 percent of its staff from the metropolitan area.
District E Councilman Mike Sullivan was the only member opposed to the legislation, and said the ordinance will only hinder Houston's growth and limit its competition in the international market place.
“We are an international city, so let’s act like one,” Sullivan told CultureMap. “We may now be viewed as contradicting ourselves for giving an uneven playing field to local businesses.”