The town of Mount Pleasant is launching one program and revitalizing another, both aimed at helping local businesses grow, expand and thrive along with the town.
The Town Proud Program, to be officially kicked off during Business Appreciation Week, Sept. 19 through Sept. 23, will encourage consumers to do business with local companies.
Meanwhile, the Local Vendor Partnership Program, first passed into law in 1997, is getting a facelift and additional publicity, encouraging local businesses to provide their products and services to the town.
“We’re taking a comprehensive approach of supporting our local businesses,” said Mount Pleasant Business Development Officer Amy Livingston. “We see both these programs as complementary pieces of the puzzle.”
The Local Vendor Partnership Program, established by legislation written by Councilman Gary Santos, has been somewhat dormant for nearly two decades. Not all that many people knew about it, something Santos hopes to change.
“It’s the best-kept secret in town,” he commented. “We’re never going to have a Boeing here, but we have lots of local businesses. I’m hoping they start utilizing this program.”
Some of the items the town buys include office supplies; parts for vehicles; printing; contractual services such as graphic design; and “a range of products and services that a town requires to stay up and going,” according to Livingston.
“We’re pushing this program because it’s a win-win for the business community and the town of Mount Pleasant,” she said. “We’re always looking to find the best quality product. Our robust business community is very capable of doing that. It’s a win for the business community because, frankly, the town is a very large customer.”
Santos, a councilman from 1996 to 2009 who was elected again in 2013, explained that bids submitted by approved vendors are evaluated as if their prices were either 5 percent lower for contracts under $10,000; 2 percent lower for contracts between $10,000 and $50,000; and 1 percent lower for contracts worth more than $50,000, not to exceed a total reduction of $2,000.
He said the program applies to products, goods and non-professional services, adding that after local reductions are considered, if a non-local company is still the low bidder, the work goes to the non-local business.
To be eligible for the program, a business must have a principal place of business within the town limits, have a current Mount Pleasant business license and “agree to allow the town to audit the applicant’s records relating to the town’s purchases to ensure the town is receiving the best products or services for the best price.” Businesses that are a part of a chain cannot take advantage of the program. Local businesses must fill out an application to be eligible to participate.
Santos said a trip to a Mount Pleasant business provided the impetus for him to write the law that established the program. A local businessman who was repairing Santos’ lawnmower pointed out that the town was giving similar work to a company in Hollywood. Santos looked into the situation, and, shortly thereafter, wrote the legislation.
“Amy can use this law as a business development tool to recruit companies to come to Mount Pleasant,” Santos said. “When we hired her in September, she took it and ran with it.”
To apply for the Local Vendor Partnership Program, visit experiencemountpleasant.com. The completed application should be submitted to the town’s Purchasing Division, along with a short list of products or services provided by your business. It can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in person or by mail at 100 Ann Edwards Lane, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina 29464.
By Brian Sherman