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Keller issues new ‘buy local’ guidelines

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mayor Tim Keller on Friday said he has issued new guidelines to city departments to increase use of local businesses for goods and services, and that starts with cups of joe.

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Mayor Tim Keller delivers comments highlighting the city’s buy local initiative during a news conference at Zendo Art and Coffee on Friday. (Steve Knight/Albuquerque Journal)

“We are switching what coffee we drink on the 11th floor to Zendo,” Keller said. “It’s a small step, but it’s a big symbolic step.”

Keller highlighted the city’s buy local initiative during a news conference at Zendo Art and Coffee, a local coffee shop that was recently awarded a contract with the mayor’s office to supply coffee.

Keller said he has updated an instruction to require all departments to get a bid from at least one local company for purchases that are subject to the new requirements.

There’s an opportunity to make a difference in Albuquerque’s economy by buying locally, he said.

“Mayors can actually have a huge say in fixing this problem,” Keller said. “As the largest city in New Mexico, we have a responsibility and opportunity to try to shift every dollar we can to a local vendor. We are requiring every department to go through all of their contracts — and there are literally thousands of contracts — and pick out which ones can be swapped out for a local company. Then we’ll go through the appropriate bidding process or small contracts process to get it done.”

The initiative includes linking more locally owned businesses to the city’s large-scale purchasing of goods and services.

The new policy increases the small purchase limit from $2,500 to $10,000, which officials say will streamline daily operations and make it easier for local businesses to offer services and goods to the city.

The city also started collecting demographic data on its vendors, using a modified W9 form, which will allow city officials to analyze purchases by vendor type, develop industry-specific strategies and establish spending goals with local businesses and businesses owned by women and people of color.

While the city will always need to buy some goods and services outside of New Mexico, Keller said, the city aims to keep as much of that money in the local economy as possible by purchasing from businesses here at home.

“It’s something where we’re going to lead by example,” Keller said. “It’s going to be a long and steady road, but it will hopefully create hundreds of jobs over the next few years.”

In an effort to better prepare local businesses to become a vendor, city officials will now share expected bidding opportunities three to six months in advance of the formal posting of the bid or proposal.

City officials believe the new policy will give local companies a sense of the market that the city has for various goods and services. In addition, all city community centers and libraries will have guidance and trained staff to help local companies sign up as a city vendor.

Companies interested in receiving notice of upcoming solicitations from the city can register at www.cabq.gov/getbids.

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