Michigan, aka the Mitten State, best known for being home to the auto industry, has become a popular destination for many types of businesses. It’s also a great place for businesses to find opportunities to work within the public sector. There are plenty of state and local bid opportunities throughout Michigan for businesses both big and small. Working with the public sector can deliver huge benefits for any business but navigating the government procurement process can be daunting, especially if a vendor is interested in bidding on all sorts of contracts for many different state agencies and city departments.
In this article, we’ll look at how to register as a vendor with the state of Michigan, as well as how to bid on opportunities with the cities of Warren, Ann Arbor and Lansing.
Bidding in the State of Michigan
The state of Michigan has over 800 multi-year contracts with private vendors, collectively worth over $1 billion. The state maintains a number of purchasing divisions that are responsible for purchasing various goods and services. These divisions include commodities and professional services, IT, Real Estate and design and construction. Other contracting offices include the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) which handles procurement for construction contracts related to bridges and highways throughout the state.
The first thing interested vendors must do is register their business using Michigan’s vendor portal, the SIGMA VSS. Once registered, vendors can find any opportunities that are worth over $10,000, gain access to training materials and submit proposals.[i] The state also offers purchasing preference for those vendors listed as a Service-Disabled Veteran owned business (SDVOB) or a community rehabilitation organization (CRO). SDVOB’s may receive a ten percent pricing preference on state contracts. A CRO is any nonprofit organization or institution that establishes an employment and training services program for individuals with disabilities. CRO’s are allowed to ask that contracts be designated as Set Asides.[ii]
Michigan also offers the Michigan Supplier Community (MiSC) program which aims to help simplify the procurement process and offer more opportunities for qualified vendors. The program allows the state to purchase directly from vendors by obtaining three qualified quotes for certain purchases worth up to $500,000. Companies are qualified to join the MiSC if they are one of the following:
- A small business
- A Michigan geographically-disadvantaged business enterprise
- A veteran-owned or service-disabled veteran-owned business
- A community rehabilitation organization
To become certified as a MiSC vendor, businesses must complete the Michigan Supplier Community affidavit and have it notarized and then update their VSS profiles to show they have been certified. This will allow agencies to seek them out for opportunities available.
(Source: 2019. Michigan.gov. State of Michigan Procurement. Contracting 101: Doing Business with the State of Michigan)
Doing Business with the City of Warren
The city of Warren is Michigan’s third-largest city and is a great location to find government bid opportunities. All bids go through the Office of the Controller and anything worth over $10,000 is required to go through a competitive bid process, where proposals must be submitted in a sealed envelope and sent in by the specific date and time stated in the bid documents.[iii] The city has multiple bid types they use to procure goods and services, including:
Invitation to Bid (ITB): Contains detailed specifications and requirements for the products and services they wish to acquire. This type of bid requires fair competitive pricing and must be delivered in a sealed envelope.
Request for Proposal (RFP): This type of bid is similar to an ITB but it does not have specific detail requirements of the goods or services needed. It contains information regarding a problem the agency needs to solve or a goal the agency wishes to attain. This bid type is referred to as a technical proposal where the vendors’ job is to explain how to solve the specific problem or what their company can do to achieve the specific goal. The proposal must state the vendors experience, capabilities and qualifications and a separate proposal for pricing must also be submitted.
Request for Information (RFI): The purpose of this bid is to obtain more detailed information about a product or service when the agency doesn’t have enough information or relevant facts or specifications on that particular product or service. The information submitted for an RFI is generally then used to create an RFP or ITB.
Telephone Bids: This type of bid can be used when there is an emergency situation or to expedite the bid process. These types of bids are usually only allowed under special circumstances and a request for approval is required.
Facsimile Bids: This type of bid is only allowed under special circumstances or for products and services purchased under the Quick Purchase Program. The office may request a facsimile bid but the original documents must then be submitted after.
(Source: 2019. City of Warren. Purchasing Department. Types of Solicitations)
Doing Business with the City of Ann Arbor
The city of Ann Arbor is known to be a center of high technology, which has drawn many companies to the city. Ann Arbor is also home to the University of Michigan which has had a significant impact on the city’s economy due to research and development, which has played a huge role in getting companies to come to the city to build their businesses. The city was named as one of the most livable cities in the United States in a 2010 Forbes poll. Ann Arbor is a perfect location for any vendor to find government bid opportunities to help boost their own business activities.
The city’s Purchasing Services office is responsible for the procurement of goods and services. Interested vendors can download bid documents and any accompanying documents as well as available plan holders’ lists for any ITB or RFP that is posted. The city determines the type of bid by the following:
- Purchases worth $3,000 to $24,999 only require quotes, which must be obtained from at least three vendors. Quotes can be submitted by mail, fax, email, verbally over the phone or in person.
- Purchases worth $25,000 or more require a competitive and formal bid process, where proposals must be submitted in a sealed envelope by the specific date and time listed. These types of bids are advertised at least 10 days prior to the bid opening.
Bids that are submitted are then opened and read aloud publicly by a purchasing officer and bid tabs are posted to the city’s purchasing website within one week of the opening.
The city does not have any local preference programs in place but they may give preference to local vendors when bids are equal or close in price.
(Source: 2019. City of Ann Arbor. Michigan Purchasing. Bid Process)
Doing Business with the City of Lansing
The City of Lansing/Lansing Board of Water & Light (COL/BWL) purchasing office is responsible for purchasing goods and services required by the many departments and agencies within the city. Purchases are made based on a competitive bid process, where they are then evaluated based upon criteria that includes competitive market prices, quality, quantity, value added services and risk assessment. The city has three types of purchases which are:
- Purchases up to $5,000: Purchasing officers may buy directly from a vendor without a quote or bid based on their judgement regarding the city’s best interest and are allowed to use a procurement card to pay for the purchase.
- Purchases worth $5,000 to $14,999: A formal quote is required for this type of purchase and may be submitted by mail, fax or in person. In some instances, informal quotes may be received and can be submitted in written form, by fax or electronically. Quotes do not require a public bid opening.
- Purchases worth $15,000 or more: A formal, sealed bid is required and a public bid opening will be held. These bids will be advertised publicly in the City Pulse. RFPs and RFQs are not subject to public openings.
(Source: 2019. City of Lansing. Finance Department. Purchasing. How We Buy)
The city of Lansing also offers local preferences which helps local businesses become part of the procurement process, allowing them to have an opportunity to work with the city, which in turn helps to facilitate the city’s economic development. The local preference ordinance states that for any purchases worth more than $1,000, the city must obtain at least one quote from a Lansing-based business when available. For purchases worth more than $15,000, the city will give the local business a five percent pricing preference over the lowest vendor bid for a chance to win the contract.[iv]
Get Help Finding Even More Local and State Bids in Michigan
Finding the right government bid opportunities that are relevant for your business can be overwhelming and time-consuming, but with a bid intelligence service all the leg work can be done for you. BidNet members receive targeted bid opportunities on a daily basis in a one-page summary email. And the great thing about this service is all three of these Michigan cities are part of one of BidNet’s exclusive purchasing groups, as are a number of other cities and departments throughout Michigan. This means that whenever these cities have bids to post they send them directly to BidNet and if the opportunities match your profile, as a member you will receive those bids as well. This is a huge benefit to members, as they do not have to look for these local bids on their own and can spend more time submitting winning proposals.
Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com
[i] 2019. Michigan.gov. Department of Technology. Management and Budget. How to Contract with the State of Michigan. 9 Jan. 2020
[ii] 2019. Michigan.gov. State of Michigan Procurement. Contracting 101: Doing Business with the State of Michigan. 9 Jan. 2020
[iii] 2019. City of Warren. Purchasing Department. Vendor Registration. 9 Jan. 2020
[iv] 2019. City of Lansing. Finance Department. Purchasing. 10 Jan. 2020