Much of the Downtown Mall redevelopment work is being done by out-of-town firm, Dave McNair writes in this week’s Hook. Local firms bid on the work, but they were beat out by companies in Norfolk, Maryland, and Michigan. Only two of the seven contracts went to local businesses. One of the owners of those local businesses complains that while they pay reasonable wages, the out of town companies are trucking in guys for $8/hour. The city seems to be in an awkward position here, not least of which is that state procurement laws (which the city has to function under) only allow them to prefer local firms when there’s a tie between two bidders. But more than that, the city’s got to get this job done as inexpensively as possible…but they’ve also got to keep local businesses happy. And those two things are, as we can see here, often at odds.