Buying locally will help us in tough times
NOBODY will disagree, I'm sure, that economies generally, and in Europe particularly, are going through tough times.
Plymouth is no exception.
However, there are always opportunities to exploit if we know where to look for them.
One such area that presents us with a fighting chance for betterment is local procurement.
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Previously, it has been known that we could have been better at buying local but the past is a reflection of what has been done and not what we are capable of doing.
The Plymouth Procurement Forum, part of the Growth Board and supported by the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses, has been championing local procurement for several years and has been working closely with the public sector buying teams in Plymouth City Council, Plymouth University, Plymouth Community Homes and several other educational establishments in the city.
During this time many seeds have been planted in the likelihood that growth will take place.
Nothing works in theory, only in application, and the public sector procurement teams are working hard to apply themselves.
For example, Plymouth Community Homes procured £28million of services and products from businesses with a PL postcode in 2010/2011.
Similarly, Plymouth City Council has spent nearly £8million with PL postcode organisations between April and July this year.
These sums of money are significant in that this income is being recycled locally rather than being shipped out of the region to be spent in local economies elsewhere.
Registration of businesses on Sell2Plymouth, the procurement portal, has doubled recently and now stands at over 4,500.
This is an important indicator of sowing seeds for growth.
Many of the public sector procurement buyers use this database to source, inform and potentially buy from these registered businesses.
There is a genuine willingness on the part of local authorities to engage with local businesses.
For example, on October 24, in Plymouth Guildhall, there is a Meet the Buyer event being organised by the Devon Procurement Partnership.
This is an ideal opportunity for Plymouth businesses to meet local public sector buyers from both Devon and Cornwall and establish new opportunities to expand their markets.
Local procurement is not just about local authorities buying from local businesses. Surely there is an argument to say that all local businesses should, wherever possible, buy locally?
These are tough times but adversity is a sail not an anchor and it's pointless to expect anyone to follow anything else other than your example.
The Plymouth Chamber of Commerce is setting an excellent example of co-operation and collaboration between Plymouth businesses and encouraging local procurement.