(this mailing list is separate from the regular Chamber eNews)
April 26, 2013
Welcome to a new level of advocacy
Hello, and welcome to the all new edition of the Flagstaff Chamber’s advocacy newsletter, from the desk of the new Government Affairs Director, me, Mike Sistak. This newsletter will be a bi-weekly publication keeping Chamber members and the Flagstaff community-at-large informed of the pro-business lobbying efforts here in the pines, down in the Valley, and across the country at our nation’s Capital.
I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Flagstaff for welcoming me back to my home state, and I extend an offer to our members to reach out to me with any tips, suggestions, or concerns about local, state, and federal issues you may have. I can be reached at the office at 928-774-4505, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During a recent Flagstaff City Council work session, the Chamber testified about the need to have a “value added” provision as a part of our city’s procurement manual, currently being developed by City staff.
What is ‘value added’?
When the city ever needs to have a public project built (roads, parks, buildings, etc.), it puts out a “Request for Statement of Qualifications” (RSOQ). Essentially, this is asking for professional contractors and service providers – such as architects, engineers and surveyors- to submit a proposal about what would make their company the best to do the requested job.
When the recession hit in 2008 and cities all throughout the country reigned in the amount of money they spent on public projects, contractors and service providers felt the squeeze on a very dependable source of income for their companies. As a result, the largest of these companies began seeking contracts outside of their normal area of operations, and often won them because they could provide the extensive and somewhat “flashy” proposals and perhaps low pricing to add a completed job to their portfolio at the expense of higher paying projects elsewhere.
Should it really matter who we award a city contract to?
Well, consider where that money goes once it is paid by the city to the winner of the contract. For example, let’s say the city of Flagstaff decides it wants to build a new fire station and two companies bid for the proposal, one from Flagstaff and one from Denver. The Flagstaff company says it can build the fire station for $1,005,000. The company from Denver says it can complete the project for $1,000,000. Naturally, you would want to go with the lowest bidder and choose Denver. The problem is that very little of that money will stay in Flagstaff, and instead contributes to the economy of Denver.
By choosing a local company, the $1,005,000 that the city spent will be recycled several times over. Let’s say the Flagstaff company employs 50 people. Those 50 people all live in the Flagstaff area, so they take their paychecks, made possible by the city contract, and spend it on goods and services for their personal lives, provided by other local companies such as our grocers, medical providers, or our restaurants. The company itself will likely have contracts with local manufacturers (such as cement mixers for the fire station’s foundation) and pay them for their services. All of the money will reverberate throughout the community and help provide for a stable economy and job retention.
Govt. Affairs Director Mike Sistake Testifying to City Council on “Value Added”
The alternative is to pay the company from Denver to do the job and watch those funds walk away from Flagstaff. The Flagstaff Chamber mission is to create a strong local business climate and a vibrant economy. That’s why we have trademarked Buy, Dine, Stay Flagstaff and constantly discuss the reasons why buying locally-for products and services of any kind-is essential to community growth.
Another benefit to awarding local companies is that it prevents a draining of valuable talent from our city. If an engineer cannot earn a livable wage in Flagstaff they will understandably move to a city that they could. If our STEM graduates at NAU enter the workforce only to find there is nothing for them in Flagstaff, they will take the first-rate education they received and let another company in another city benefit from it. As America’s first STEM community, we should be doing all we can to generate a robust economy that will provide a good job for those students who took the time to focus on such an education.
By placing a value added section in the Flagstaff procurement manual we would be giving our local businesses a leg up in the competition for city contracts. This section would award points to a company bidding for a contract if they can show such things as knowledge of the Flagstaff region, employment of local residents, and have their offices headquartered in Flagstaff or the county.
But doesn’t a local preference degrade the competitive process for city contracts?
Not really. There might be an RSOQ put out that no local business can compete for or perhaps an outside company can provide the service at a significantly lower price. A local preference doesn’t exclude others from competing, and it doesn’t guarantee an award to a local business, it only provides a leg up.
By hiring a local business as often as possible, we create a robust economic climate that will benefit all of Flagstaff.
Happening in Flagstaff
The Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Northern Arizona Healthcare recently hosted members of the state legislature at Flagstaff Medical Center for a roundtable discussion of Governor Brewer’s plan for the expansion of AHCCCS, the state’s Medicaid system, a Chamber-endorsed plan.
In attendance were Senator Chester Crandell, Representative Bob Thorpe, and Representative Jamescita Peshlakai.
The meeting highlighted that the proposal is going to be heavily debated and that there are various opinions about how to proceed. The Flagstaff Chamber will continue to advocate for a solution to the high cost of uncompensated care and providing healthcare coverage to the most vulnerable of Arizona’s citizens.
In Case You Missed It
The U.S. Senate’s so-called “Gang of Eight” introduced their legislation for comprehensive immigration reform. Much of the credit for this work goes to our own senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, who even brought some of their fellow senators to Arizona for a border tour to learn firsthand just what our state has to manage on our southern border.
This legislation will be an important first step in developing a realistic solution for dealing with the estimated 11 million individuals who are not legally living in the country. It also addresses the serious issue of securing our borders, as well as reforms our visa program for needed high tech and low-skilled workers.
The Flagstaff Chamber applauds our senators for their work, and we offer our full support for passage of this needed legislation.
What we’re watching
House Bill 2076 – A Flagstaff Chamber endorsed legislative proposal that would ease the transition of military service members back into the civilian workforce. Passed the state Senate on April 9th on a unanimous vote of 30-0. Governor Brewer signed the bill into law on April 11th.
Zoning Map Amendments -the Flagstaff City Council recently hosted a roundtable with key community leaders to discuss potential changes to the city zoning code. At the table, representing business interests was Flagstaff Chamber President and CEO, Julie Pastrick. Among the amendments being discussed is a proposal that would make it easier for businesses to more easily obtain commercial re-zoning of property which would help grow our community in a smart, responsible manner.
Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030 – Don’t forget to download your copy of the draft plan, and take the citizen’s survey at www.flagstaffmatters.com
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently launched a new website called The American Opportunity which will keep you up to date on everything the Chamber is doing at the national level to advance comprehensive immigration reform.
Check out the website and sign the petition to Congress telling them the time to act is now!