Mark Zangari, owner of Dollar Wise Cartridge and president of the West Cobb Business Association, has gained contracts to sell ink and toner cartridges to the county under the “Keep it in Cobb” program.
The brainchild of Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, Keep it in Cobb encourages the county government and residents to shop locally, teaching companies how to be considered a preferred vendor for county contracts.
“Since the program began, I’ve established relationships with the parks and recreation and cultural affairs department,” Zangari said.
He says it’s important for the county to set an example.
“It’s going to be small business that rebuilds the economy, and when you do business with a small local business, $68 on every $100 spent stays right here in Cobb County,” Zangari said.
From February 2012 until February 2013, the first year the program was implemented, 25 out of 62 contracts went to local businesses. Statistics on local contracts weren’t kept before February 2012.
Those numbers are from eight county departments and are for professional services, which include engineering design, attorneys, consulting and vendors who provide items such as office equipment.
Birrell, who represents northeast Cobb on the Board of Commissioners, says it’s about supporting the community.
“I’d much rather see a local business get the contract than a business from out of Cobb or out of state, even,” Birrell said.
The project was born from the idea that county government should support Cobb businesses. Businesses that compete for county contracts are scored on a number of qualifications, like price, and now local businesses receive a certain number of points for being a Cobb-based company.
That can easily put a local business ahead of its competitors.
Birrell admits it’s difficult for the county to do all of its business with local stores. The Cobb Department of Transportation may need to use out-of-county companies for construction projects.
Cost is also a factor.
“We have to make that a priority because we can’t justify doing business with a company just because they’re local when their prices are way higher than the next (company),” Birrell said. “The reason is we’re using taxpayer money.”
Karen Traeger is the chairwoman of the Keep it in Cobb committee and says when the county shops local, everyone wins.
“When the county expands its vendor list then there’s more competition price wise and service wise so the county is getting better services and better prices so they can do more with our tax dollars,” said Traeger, who owns a receivables management company in east Cobb called Worry Free Receivables.