The Borough issued a request for construction proposals for the career center today. The 76,550-square foot project is being funded partly through general obligation bonds. The state is reimbursing the Borough up to 60 percent of the total cost. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough will procure the contract through Best Value Contracting. This is the second Best Value procurement solicitation by the Borough. The first time was for the ferry terminal contract in January. While the lowest cost is at the core of the traditionally-used low bid system, the Best Value method considers more than initial cost. Price is a critical factor, but so too are elements that can affect the overall price such as the company's work history, their safety record, their history of change orders and delays. The Borough is selecting the high quality contractor rather than basing award solely on the lowest bid, said Russ Krafft, the Borough's purchasing officer. "An inexperienced contractor can win a low bid without properly anticipating the coordination of materials and labor. Many projects in the past that came in at the lowest bid have ended up costing more in the end because of change orders, claims, and sometimes legal bills. "Borough Mayor Tim Anderson sees the logic of investing in a quality project that lasts. "What we're trying to do with Best Value Contracting is provide the residents of the Borough and taxpayers with the best product possible," Anderson said. The 30-acre site for the proposed career center is near Teeland Middle School. The tract is accessed from Seldon Road, but will eventually connect to North Seward Meridian Parkway. The center will be a learning hub with strong ties to business and industry, including five career pathways: IT/Business/Electronics, Architecture/Engineering/Construction, Health Sciences/Nursing, Culinary Arts/Hospitality/Tourism, and Physical Fitness/Sports Science. With this second Best Value-based solicitation, the Borough Assembly is now in the position to evaluate and formally adopt the method into all large-scale future construction projects, Krafft said. A company's investment in Alaska workers is rewarded. Those that promote apprenticeship training and local workforce development do get some extra credit. "Tangible items such as past performance have to weigh heavily, but items such as involvement in workforce development show that the contractor is willing to invest in the future through worker training," Krafft said. "We worked closely with the contracting industry, to ensure that we produce a solicitation document that not only identifies the highest quality contractor for the money, but makes the project open to all qualified firms." The Municipality of Anchorage and the state of Alaska procure contracts this way. About ten states have passed Best Value laws. Federal agencies use Best Value Contracting for some 70 percent of federal construction. The Department of Education and Early Development has approved the use of Best Value Contracting with the stipulation that 60 percent of the evaluation must be based on cost. The project is expected to cost $15 million to $18 million. For more information, contact Purchasing Officer Russ Krafft at (907) 745-9639 or Borough Manager John Duffy at (907) 745-9689.