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Board looks at methods to lure more small vendors

City News Service | 4/27/2018, midnight
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted this week to explore better ways of..

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted this week to explore better ways of publicizing $6.6 billion in county contracts and purchases, hoping to attract more qualified small vendors.

“We want county contracts to do the following: support the vitality of small businesses and social enterprises, foster more (minority-owned business) opportunities, increase opportunities for veterans, extend employment to people with convictions that have stigmatized them beyond the point of reasonableness,'' as well as to increase wages and wage protections, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

To accomplish that, Ridley-Thomas said he believes the county needs to do a better job of advertising opportunities. His motion directs staffers to review the process used to pick websites and print publications to publicize open bids and contracts and recommend changes to reach the broadest possible audience of potential bidders.

Representatives of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and various media outlets turned out in support of the plan, saying they could help craft an outreach program.

In 2016, the board set goals to contract and buy 25 percent of goods and services from small businesses and 3 percent from businesses owned by disabled veterans.

In the second year of a four-year plan of implementation, contracts awarded to both groups increased by $100 million, according to the department's director.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger cautioned that staffers should also be careful when writing contract specifications to make sure that they are not so unnecessarily narrow as to leave only one qualified bidder.

“It locks out the mom-and-pops, the small business owners who cannot compete,'' Barger said.

Vendors can register online and look at a list of open bids for good and services ranging from “pens and pencils to computers to helicopters and services such as architectural, consulting, janitorial and parking'' at www.lacounty.gov/business/doing-business-with-the-county.