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Airport director clarifies 'buy American' policy
Come to find out the Economic Development Administration does have a “buy American” preference in its bidding guidelines for projects it helps fund.
It just states it a little differently than the Federal Aviation Administration, explained Craig Williams, Yuma International Airport director.
The subject came up after the airport was asked to rebid a construction project funded in part with a $3.8 million EDA grant because the bid package included the FAA “buy American” clause. The FAA clause requires that all steel and manufactured goods used in Airport Improvement Program-funded projects be produced in the United States.
EDA had asked the airport to strike that clause in its bid package to save on the construction of the Aviation Industrial Center(AIC) in the airport's Defense Contractor Complex.
EDA has since come back to the airport to say its position on “buy American” was misrepresented in media coverage of the issue.
“Some members of EDA were concerned that the airport hadn't fairly reflected their policy,” Williams said Tuesday. “They do have their own policy.”
A statement from EDA regarding American-made equipment and products reads: “Recipients are hereby notified that they are encouraged, to the greatest extent practicable, to purchase American-made equipment and products with funding provided under this award.”
Both policies emphasize the importance of buying American, Williams said. He noted that all the contractors who originally bid on the AIC project buy American anyway.
“I wanted to show good faith on our part. EDA has gone out if its way to help us.”
The new bid package was published Monday and a pre-bid conference will be held Sept. 18, Williams said. The bids will be opened on Oct. 9, with the Yuma County Airport Authority scheduled to award the winning contract when it meets later that day.
Williams expects construction to start by late October and be completed by August 2013.
The AIC will include two hangars with shared office and shop space for both short- and long-term tenants in the defense aerospace industry.
Williams said the airport will start marketing the building with the help of Greater Yuma Economic Development Corp. as soon as the steel goes up. He is confident a tenant will be lined up by the time the project is completed. He also said he wouldn't be surprised if someone didn't just walk in and need hangar space.
“It will be a modern hangar in the middle of some of the most important defense aerospace work that is going on.”