On behalf of the 550 members of AUC -– Michigan’s Heavy Construction Association I would like to express my concern over the decision of some members of the city commission to institute a local preference ordinance in the awarding of city contracts.
On the surface this ordinance would appear to benefit contractors in the Kalamazoo area by allowing them to a two percent advantage on bids submitted to the city. What speaks volumes is that not one of these contractors provided written or oral support for this ordinance and, in my opinion, for good reason.
History has proven that isolationism and/or protectionism simply does not achieve its intended goal. In this era of global and free trade this move by the commission is pure bad public policy. There is no guarantee that this policy will keep or increase jobs within the city, but one thing is for certain – the citizens will pay more for the construction contracts.
Consider this – there is not one heavy highway contractor that can survive merely by staying within the county of Kalamazoo. Employers must look elsewhere for projects and go where there is work. If they are successful, their employees continue to work – if not, they are laid off. Due to an ordinance of this type it is my belief that other communities, e.g. Battle Creek, will follow suit thus eliminating or restricting the ability of Kalamazoo residents to remain employed. Should this take place, and I believe it will, there will be a net decrease not increase in employment.
The four to three vote in favor of the local preference ordinance is at best shortsighted and will not enure to the benefit of Kalamazoo residents.
Bob Patzer Executive Director Michigan’s Heavy Construction Association