City panel backs measure requiring Philly businesses get preference on contracts

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City Council conducts a hearing on giving Philadelphia businesses an edge when awarding city contracts. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

City Council conducts a hearing on giving Philadelphia businesses an edge when awarding city contracts. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Some business owners are questioning a measure to help direct city contracts to Philadelphia companies. 

Streamlining the bidding process to give local firms an edge will help keep money in town, said Saleem Chapman of the Sustainable Business Network during a Monday hearing at City Hall.

“In a city that is majority minority and a city with high poverty, unemployment, low median household wage and vast gaps in wealth, the economy cannot reach its full potential unless minority women and disabled-owned businesses are reaching their full and true potential,” Chapman said.

But Jihad Ali said he believes major contractors will find a way around the preference.

“You can believe the majority contractors, the guys who are making from $20 to $150 an hour with their employees, are looking for loopholes,” Ali said.

If there is an issue, however, a contract can be rebid, said Trevor Day, the city commissioner for procurement.

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