Editorial: A better chance to sell to Rowan

Editorial: A better chance to sell to Rowan

Rowan University is facing belt-tightening times, with an announced state aid cut of 5 percent for the next fiscal year. That's one reason it's brave of Rowan to push an initiative aimed at keeping more of its spending in South Jersey.

''Buy local'' programs can be costly. And Rowan, like most public entities, is limited by bidding laws in using local vendors who may be more expensive than big national suppliers.

In the main, that's how it has to be. Rowan President Donald Farish recognizes the highest obligation must be placed on getting the best value for state aid and tuition dollars. But a recent tally showed Rowan spent with Gloucester County businesses only $10.7 million of the $135 million it spent on outside supplies and services last year.

The school is trying to do better. Purchasing agents are scoping out local companies that may be able to undercut national firms' and state ''bid list'' prices. Even better is that Rowan recently held a seminar for Glassboro businesses to teach owners to navigate the sometimes-complex purchasing system. The university plans to hold a similar session for the rest of the county. It should be expanded to all of South Jersey.

Although complexities can abound in the purchasing system, some steps for selling more to Rowan seem surprisingly simple. How many businesses that want to do that are aware they're supposed to ''pre-register'' with Rowan so it knows what they can offer?

Rowan's budget for purchases exceeds the entire budgets of most local towns and school districts. Spending more in the local community helps strengthen that community. It's good that Rowan is giving it the old college try, in a way that is responsible with students' and taxpayers' money.

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Date Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 09:11