Procurement Can Be a Powerful Tool for Local Economies, but Takes More Than a Policy Change to Work

Originally Posted at the Institute of Local Self-Reliance

At least 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, have procurement policies designed to give a preference to businesses that meet certain characteristics, such as those that are owned by veterans, pay certain wages, use environmentally sustainable practices, or manufacture within the state. Of these, about half have adopted an explicit preference for businesses that are small and/or local. These policies vary considerably. Some apply only in narrow circumstances; others are broader. In addition, more than thirty states have policies aimed at steering purchasing to minority- and women-owned businesses. Looking beyond state governments, large numbers of counties, cities, and towns have procurement policies of their own.

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Procurement Can Be a Powerful Tool for Local Economies, but Takes More Than a Policy Change to Work

Opportunity: Promote a Local Climate Appropriate Economy

From City of Keene’s Climate Adaptation Plan

GOAL: Support environmentally sustainable businesses and economy.


  • Review and rewrite zoning code and land development regulations in five years to include sustainable building materials, design, and energy conservation measures.
  • Provide incentives for businesses to locate in Keene that produce sustainable and environmentally friendly products or that utilize sustainable principles in their production processes.
  • Create an Economic Development Coordinator position within the City.

GOAL: Increase the vitality and competitiveness of local business.


  • Identify economic development policies and goals that incorporate sustainability; then seek out businesses that meet those goals.
  • Support business incubators to bolster local business development that provides “niche” services or products that are environmentally friendly.
  • Provide assistance in the creation or identification of markets for sustainable businesses or their products.
  • Create a media package that invites target companies to locate in Keene and highlights Keene’s commitment to the environment and sustainability.
  • Create a way-finding system to increase ease of movement and access to key areas (e.g. downtown, evacuation routes, warm/cool shelters) of the City via alternative transportation modes and prioritize clearing of these paths in the event of emergencies.