Savannah First program aims to aggressively boost business recovery

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah City Council has given the go-ahead on a pilot program aimed at helping local businesses recover from the pandemic. 

It’s part of the city’s larger COVID-19 recovery plan. Savannah First will give local businesses preference and first bidding rights on city contracts.

“It gives our local economy what’s called the multiplier effect,” said Alderman Nick Palumbo, of District 4. “If we’re paying businesses that are right here, they’re going to spend their dollars right here.”

For one year, local-, small-, minority- and women-owned businesses will be given more points in the system the city uses to grade contract bids. To qualify, a business must be local, capable and qualified to meet the needs of the contract on which they’re bidding.

They also need a business tax certificate dated before to April 1, 2020,

“It’s aggressive, I know. It’s ambitious, I know. But these are times that call for some aggressive and ambitious action,” said Mayor Van Johnson.

Mayor Pro-Tem and District 5 Alderwoman Dr. Estella Shabazz became emotional as she acknowledged the long road city leaders have walked to provide this boost to the local economy — still suffering after the pandemic forced many businesses to close.

“Mr. Mayor you have really made the sun shine even brighter today,” Shabazz said.

A contractor-in-training program will also be launched to help businesses that aren’t already certified to bid get all of the proper certifications.

Aldermen will check in on the progress of the program after the first six months.

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