County Creates Local Preference Policy

At the May 7 St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, the BOCC approved an Ordinance amending the County’s Purchasing Policy to create more opportunities for local businesses to be more competitive to earn contracts with the County for purchases between $10,000 and $250,000.

Jaime T. Locklear, Director of the Purchasing & Contracts Department, said, “In 2019, the Board of County Commissioners adopted a Local Preference Policy. There was good intent; however, it became a cumbersome administrative process within our policies, with minimal benefit to local businesses in our community. The change right sizes the application of Local Preference in a way that relates more appropriately to local industry. Plus, this creates a more efficient system for County staff. We are also collaborating with the SBDC at UNF and the Chamber to develop an outreach and interactive campaign to enhance the capabilities for local and small businesses to participate in County opportunities.”

Ordinance #2024-21 helps modify the Local Preference to:

Eligibility Criteria: Provide clarification that for Services and Construction, in addition to qualifying as a Local Business, at least 50% of the Work/Services must be self-performed or performed by Subcontractors who qualify as Local Businesses.

Application: Local Preference will only be applied to Informal Solicitations for Small Purchases ($10,000 – $250,000), which are decided based on the lowest price, not Best Value (i.e., price and other factors).

Process: This removes the requirement that suppliers agree to match the low bid within 48 hours of submitting a quote. Suppliers agree to match the low bid if they qualify as a local business and are within 10% of the lowest quote.

Isabelle Renault, St. Johns Chamber President & CEO, said, “Last fall, the County approached the Chamber with an interesting issue they faced implementing the new contracting Ordinance designed to help small St. Johns County companies successfully navigate doing business with the County. Working closely with the County, we arrived at a solution that both financially encourages small businesses in St. Johns to bid on RFPs put out by the County but also saves the County potentially millions of dollars by correcting a procurement system that was actually turning away the most competitive bidders from even participating in the process. Under this new Ordinance, all informal contracts with St. Johns County under $250,000 awarded by price will be subject to a local preference. In other words, businesses located in St. Johns County will be granted up to a 10% price preference for these contracts. In the coming months, the St. Johns County Chamber will work closely with the County to develop education programs for its small businesses to help them participate in these procurements going forward.” 

Visit to learn more about opportunities to do business with St. Johns County through purchases and contracts.