Local Companies Get Preference Under “Hire Houston First”

Houston companies and contractors will get preference when bidding for city contracts under a new ordinance enacted by city leaders.

The new policy is intended to boost the local economy by utilizing Houston-area businesses whenever possible. Under Hire Houston First, the city will award contracts under $100,000 to local companies who bid within five percent of the
lowest bidder. For contracts over $100,000, the bid must be within three percent of the lowest bidder.

The program fulfills a promise Houston Mayor Annise Parker made when she first took office.

“I’m extremely proud that my initiative, a promise that I made two years ago, has been kept. It took us a little bit longer than I had wanted because we took a detour through the state legislature. But it’s a much stronger ordinance. Hiring Houston allows us to put some teeth in our ordinance on keeping local tax dollars local.”

Parker says of the city’s $4 billion annual budget, more than half of the money falls into enterprise funds which pay for various
projects in the city. That’s more than $2 billion that could potentially be reinvested back in the local economy.

“We are required by state law, and have been required by state law, to do all of our purchasing on a low bid basis. The state legislature, this last session, recognized the importance of keeping local dollars circulating in a local economy is so great that they actually changed state law to allow us to go to the second low bidder if it is within striking distance of the low bid.”

Parker says the city will reach out to local companies and help help them learn how to navigate the bidding process.


Above image from Annise Parker’s Website.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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