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Economy blamed in bid process
When bids for the ongoing jail construction project were unsealed last summer, the lowest one came in at nearly $4 million under county estimates.

Officials attributed the low bids to a slow-moving economy and the eagerness of contractors to file competitive bids for government projects.

But the economy also has had a negative impact on the bidding process. Fewer companies are submitting bids.

Glynn County Commissioner Dale Provenzano expressed concern that some projects have failed to generate the kind of interest the county had anticipated from contractors.

Provenzano cited the $12 million airport runway project, where only one company submitted a bid. It came in at $24 million, double what county officials had estimated the work to cost.

Bids for boat ramp renovations at Blythe Island Regional Park also came in high, forcing the county to rebid the project.

The problem is the economy, Provenzano said. It's preventing some contractors from bidding on government projects because they can't get bonds that will guarantee the work is completed if they are unable to finish the contract for any reason.

The companies might be struggling financially, or in some instances, have too many ongoing projects to qualify for a bond, Provenzano said.

"Credit's tight now," he said. "The only ones who can do it are the biggest companies. It's not as competitive as it should be."

Provenzano said he is concerned the lack of participation by potential bidders is a trend that will continue until the economy improves more than it has.

"There are a limited number of contractors and some have gone out of business," he said. "I think down the road, if things don't loosen up, it will be a bigger concern. This is a trend that is a little disturbing."

Luckily, some of the bigger projects, like the new jail and the roof at the public safety complex, went to bid before it became more difficult for contractors to qualify for bonds.

"I think we were fortunate to get those bids out a year and a half or two years ago," he said. "For big projects, those contractors are still around."

Camden County Administrator Steve Howard said he hasn't experienced any problem finding qualified contractors to bid on projects, but that doesn't mean it's not an issue or concern. Howard said the county just hasn't had enough projects recently to know if a problem exists.

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at gjackson@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 912-464-7655.



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