(Nov. 2012 story)

Tuesday City Council gave the city's purchasing manager the directive to strengthen local business ordinances in the "Hire El Paso First- Local Business Purchase Preference Policy"

The "Hire El Paso First" policy was designed to encourage local preference when it comes to the City of El Paso's bidding process. But in light of the passage of quality of life bonds in the Nov. 6 election, City Representative Cortney Niland said she wants to retool the Nov. 2011 policy.

Niland said she wants to ensure the policy gives local businesses a first crack at tapping into the nearly half a billion dollars in bond projects planned for the city.

"As the city makes major investment we want to make sure those jobs and those dollars stay local," said Niland. "We have a preference policy, but we want to strengthen it"

Niland presented Council with directives, she said, that were inspired by cities like Houston and San Antonio, including: Affording preferences and considerations to small, minority, woman-owned businesses and disabled veterans in the city bidding process; helping local businesses to meet bonding requirements; using local subcontractors on city projects; and imposing more stringent guidelines on what constitutes a local business. (currently defined in "Hire El Paso First" as a business headquartered within the incorporated city with three employees)

"(A local business) is something beyond having three people in the office," City Representative Emma Acosta agreed. "We have companies that come here to El Paso, open up an office and have one person from the company and maybe two clerks. I don't think that means they have a presence in our government."

While the purchasing manager designs a new plan for Council to consider, Niland said she'll be working on keeping local business owners informed of the developments.

"What were going to do is reach out and educate the businesses on the procurement process and how to do business with the city."

(Nov. 2012 story)