Conducting Business With The City Of Sierra Vista

Dear M & M: I am a local business owner. What do I need to do in order to conduct business with the City of Sierra Vista? – Local Business Owner

To answer this question, we have reached out to the City of Sierra Vista’s Chief Procurement Officer, Laura Wilson, for an answer.

Dear Local Business Owner:

Great question and one that I get asked a lot! Working with local vendors is one of our favorite things to do in the Procurement Division at the City of Sierra Vista. The first thing a local vendor should do to get started is to obtain a City of Sierra Vista Business License and a Vendor Identification Number.

The process to obtain those items is simple; just visit our website at www.sierravistaaz.gov. Business Licenses and instructions are located under the City Clerks page and Vendor Self Service is located as a choice under Procurement. Both Divisions are located under the City Departments drop down menu.

Next, get to know a little about how we are required to procure our goods and services. For larger procurements over $100,000.00 in value, we advertise in the paper for a minimum of four consecutive days and leave the invitation for bids or proposals open for responses for a minimum of two weeks.

The solicitation invitations and instructions are located on the Procurement section of the City website under Bidding Opportunities. Make sure you are checking those resources often. If you are a smaller business, the larger opportunities may seem too big for you to bid on as a Prime Contractor, however,  there may still be opportunities to subcontract to larger companies in order to help drive a potential Prime’s costs down in order to be more competitive.

In order to find out which larger contractors might bid to large projects, you can access a bidder’s list from a given website location within the solicitation documents. You can also contact us in the Procurement office to point you in the right direction. You can use that information to approach the larger firms and offer to submit a bid to them as a subcontractor for elements of a project. If they win and you’re on their team, you get a piece of the pie.

For procurements less than $100,000.00 and more than $10,000.00, the City is required to solicit to a minimum of three vendors and ask them to provide a quote for needed goods and services. We use this method regularly for purchases exceeding $2,500.00 as well if we believe there is an opportunity for savings.

For these purchases, our Buyers search for vendors who provide the items or services that we are looking for. We use the web, our vendor database, known vendors, and past procurements to locate businesses that can provide what we are searching for. We then send the Request for Quotation (RFQ) and response instructions to the businesses and request that they answer the solicitation within a certain timeframe.

The business that provides the best quote is evaluated for a complete response in accordance to the award criteria and is awarded the purchase. Most of the time, these purchases go to the lowest bidder. Local vendors sometimes have an advantage in this area because of several factors, which may help them compete.

Our tax rate in Sierra Vista is quite low, shipping and handling charges should be minimal or nonexistent for stocked items, and local vendors should have minimal or no travel expenses factored into their quotes because they’re already located here. Travel expenses for fuel and bringing labor and equipment into town in order to complete work on a project are known as mobilization costs, which are often factored into quotes or bids.

Those costs can add up and drive up a bid price.  For purchases under $2,500.00, employees may purchase their day to day needs using a Purchasing Card, otherwise known as a pCard. This card identifies the user as an authorized City employee to purchase items on the card and possesses a Visa symbol which allows it to be utilized as a credit card in stores and online.

The advantage of the City using a pCard is that we are able to receive a cash rebate at the end of each year and it is a convenient way to track spending by departments and employees. The Procurement Division Administers the pCard program for the City and have complete oversight of purchases made by all staff. Many City of Sierra Vista employees may have utilized establishments for City purchases unbeknownst to the vendor because of the cards ease of use.

Vendors who offer discounts to the City of Sierra Vista can verify an employee’s official purchases by verifying that they are paying for the merchandise with their City issued pCard and verifying their employee ID. My greatest advice to a vendor who would like to conduct business with the City of Sierra Vista is to get to know us and find out about opportunities which may be available to you.

Research the bidding process, practice by responding to requests, consider subcontracting opportunities, and learn from bids and quotes that you may not have won. If you don’t win a bid or RFQ issued by the City of Sierra Vista, give us a call and request a debrief. That is a wonderful way to learn about unsuccessful responses and what you might be able to do better the next time around. You can also pay us a visit!

We speak to vendors in our offices by appointment on a regular basis. We are here to help you and educate you on the process. We want you to earn our business and are eager to share our processes with you. To ask questions or to request an appointment with me or one of our Buyers, please call (520) 458-3315 or email me at laura.wilson@sierravistaaz.gov. We appreciate your interest and hope to hear from you soon!

– M&M

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