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Lowndes: Dougherty's frustrations not with us

ALBANY, Ga. -- Lowndes County government officials contacted their counterparts in Dougherty County this week to clarify that their preference program for projects doesn't preclude anyone -- Albany included -- from bidding on projects.

At this week's County Commission meeting, Commissioner Gloria Gaines expressed concern that the company that provided the lowest bid for construction of the new EMS headquarters was from Lowndes County -- a place that she said didn't allow Albany and Dougherty County companies to bid.

Lowndes County officials have since contacted Dougherty County Administrator Richard Crowdis to clear the record, saying that its not their program that excludes bidding from Dougherty County companies, but that the city of Valdosta that has a sheltered market designed to help their own small businesses.

That program, referred to as the Valdosta Small Emerging Business program, requires local small businesses interested in bidding on government projects to join their directory. It also establishes a 10 percent goal so that when prime contractors bid on projects, they are required to dedicate at least 10 percent of the project to subcontractors in the VSEB directory.

Lowndes, however, has no sheltered market program, but rather, a preference program that allows government contracts to go to local businesses even if they aren't the lowest bidder, as long as their bid is within 2 percent of the lowest bid.

Gaines had asked Dougherty commissioners Monday to remember that "Lowndes County does not allow our folks to bid in Lowndes County. They have a sheltered market for construction projects.

Lowndes County needs to know this will be the last bid they will get in this county until they open up their process to our businesses."

Other commissioners, like Commissioner John Hayes, expressed frustration that there was little to no discussion of requiring or encouraging the company to use local subcontractors on the project.