Howard County Executive Calvin Ball signed an impactful Executive Order (EO) yesterday establishing new rules for awarding procurement dollars to local businesses. The EO strengthens the Local Business Initiative with the following updates:

  • Contracts may be awarded to certified local businesses that submit a competitive sealed bid within 10% of a low bid by a non-local firm.
  • Written quotations for Informal Quotes ($10,001 – $29,999) from local certified businesses should be obtained whenever possible.
  • Certain solicitations will contain an evaluation factor up to 10% of the total points for firms certified within the Local Business Initiative.
  • Certain low bid awards for non-capital projects should go to a local business if there is a tie for lowest bid with a non-local business.
  • Howard County prioritize local businesses when purchasing goods or services under $10,000.00.

Photos from the event can be found here. Video can be found here.

“We have had many frank conversations with residents, businesses and the Chamber of Commerce to better understand the challenges and opportunities in the business community. A primary theme is the need to increase opportunities for procurement within the County and the flow of procurement dollars back into our community,” said Ball. “As public, private, and non-profit entities grapple with how to adapt to their new environment, we’re prioritizing our local businesses. Together we can continue to build lasting relationships with our businesses and be better positioned for greater growth in the months and years to come

The Local Business Initiative has grown exponentially in the past three years. In 2018, only 100 firms were certified with the Office of Procurement and Contract Administration under the Local Business Initiative. Currently, there are 237 certified firms, a 137% increase.


In addition to increased participation, Howard County has directed more funding towards local businesses every year since 2018. In Fiscal year 2019, the County spent $10.5 million with local businesses. In Fiscal Year 2020, the County spent more than $16 million – a 52% increase over the previous year. Since 2018, Howard County has spent 300% more with local businesses.

“This is the latest in a series of steps to drive economic opportunities for our local companies,” said Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Janssen Evelyn. “Coupled with the Office’s continued outreach efforts, this will aid in mitigating the negative economic effects of the pandemic while driving economic growth and job creation.”

“The expansion of the local business initiative is great for small business in Howard County,” said Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Leonardo McClarty. “We are fortunate to have a small business base that is talented and highly capable and for some, they simply need an opportunity to prove themselves. This program can potentially be the jump start our small businesses need. “

“Today’s Executive Order gives a significant boost to any local firm that’s interested in doing business with local government,” said Office of Procurement and Contract Administration Deputy Administrator Pricilla Kung. “We hope this will encourage more of our local companies to register with our LBI program and take the critical next step of submitting bids for County projects.”

“Here in Howard County we believe that paying a living wage is important and today’s executive order backs that up with real action from our county government and shows that it supports small businesses like Nightmare Graphics,” said Nightmare Graphics Owner Rob Andelman.

“I can personally vouch and say we have benefited from this program, not only directly from contracts with the county but also from matchmaking the office has done with local prime contractors, and that has really made a difference for us,” said Allen and Shariff CEO Zach Shariff. “A few years ago, all our projects were outside the county, and today a ton of our projects are inside the county.”

“My company, Spectrum HR Solutions started 20 years ago as a small operation, and today we are a very successful group with 12 team members,” said Spectrum HR CEO Brenda McChriston. “There’s a reason why Howard County and Columbia have been named the number one place to live for several years in a row, and that’s because the County takes care of us.


Scott E