Businesses in Richland, Lexington, Kershaw, Fairfield, Calhoun, Sumter and Newberry counties will receive preference in Columbia city contracts.
City Council approved the local preference ordinance this morning. It expands an earlier proposal that would have given preference to businesses in Richland and Lexington counties only.
Under the ordinance, local businesses whose bids are within 5 percent, or $500,000, of a non local bidder will have the opportunity to match the bid and win the contract.
Council wanted the ordinance because they are just starting a five year, $500 million campaign to upgrade the city's water and sewer systems. City officials said they want the money to stay local and serve as the city's version of a stimulus project.
The ordinance must be voted on a second time before it takes effect.
Franklin Lee, an attorney based in Maryland, drafted the ordinance for council.