Jacksonville-area counties urged to ‘buy American first'

Duval, Clay, St. Johns, Nassau to consider ‘My Town Buys American’ legislation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Representatives from Duval, St. Johns, Clay and Nassau counties are asking their local governments to pass legislation requiring government agencies to buy American first, whenever possible.

The “My Town Buys American” initiative was born out of the economic crisis brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The idea is to get local governments to buy American products first, even if they are slightly more expensive.

Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond introduced the legislation with support from his counterparts in St. Johns, Clay and Nassau counties. Diamond said the bill would basically require the departments that do the buying for local agencies to spend public funds on things that are manufactured, assembled or produced in the U.S.

“These four counties put together have an over $4 billion budget. Over the entire country, local governments spent $1.7 trillion. Today, we’ve got record levels of unemployment, homelessness and hunger," Diamon said. “Record numbers of problems in our economy all due to the coronavirus pandemic. So wouldn’t it make sense to spend as much of that money as possible here in America?”

Diamond said realistically not everything purchased can be made in America, but if the products are on equal footing cost-wise “why not buy American.”

“We’re not saying always buy American,” Diamond said. “That’s not rational. But what is rational is that if you have one that’s made in America and one that’s made in China, you should buy the American. And we’re even willing to pay 5% more. And that’s what the legislation says."

Diamond and his counterparts plan to introduce the legislation for debate in their respective governmental bodies in the next two weeks.

Diamond added that he hopes other local governments nationwide will adopt similar measures and help offset some of the economic impacts of the novel coronavirus.

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