Central Highlands’ businesses are set to reap the benefits of changes to local purchasing arrangements by the Central Highlands Regional Council.
Speaking at the Investing in our Future conference recently in Emerald, council’s CEO Scott Mason said the ‘big news’ was that the council is embedding, where it can, local contractors and suppliers into large contracts to keep ‘dollars local’.
‘All tenderers for contracts greater than $200 000 must give a commitment to spend 20 per cent of their tender price in the local region and must explain how that is going to be achieved,’ Mr Mason said.
‘We are, in fact, using geography to inform our purchasing decisions and, as far as we know, we are the first Queensland council to do so.
‘In essence, it means that if your business is registered in the locality where the work is and you use local personnel, goods and services then you’re in the most advantageous position to win the work.
‘We’ve had no option except to go down this path because, in a region the size of this one, it’s unfair to think that everyone can compete for every job and every contract wherever the work is taking place.
‘The councillors are demonstrating real leadership here by amending the local preference policy and really examining where we spend locally—and they’re excited by the decision.’
Mr Mason said that the council is now spending 40 per cent of its eligible spend in the local economy.
‘Two-thirds of our $20 million spend so far this year has been local and more than 60 per cent of our purchase orders are less than $100 000, which means more opportunities for local business,’ he said.
‘Times have changed and all businesses, including council, are having to become leaner. The council is lucky to have the fiscal flexibility to support the local business fraternity, which we are doing and we’ll continue to get better at doing.
‘In saying that, it is equally important that we are all vigilant to ensure our pricing and cost structures are as competitive as possible; not only to stay in business, but to prosper.’