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Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 8:00am

Government Construction Strong On Coast

Savannah-area sub-contractors are lining up for millions of dollars in government work.

Local officials are pressing for the contracts to stay local.

Chatham County is building a $70 million jail.

Work also will begin soon on two libraries, a health center and a couple of transit stations, together worth about $40 million.

Officials already have chosen the main contractors.

But county women and minority business contract coordinator Arneja Riley says, many smaller sub-contracts are still available.

"We're looking for someone who actually has experience as a supervisor or as a business owner themselves working on some type of commercial project," Riley says.

A local builder says, in the on-going construction slump, government work remains strong compared with the private market.

Todd Osborne of Choate Construction's Savannah office says, the recession has forced builders to change the way they operate.

"We probably were 70% private work and now it's almost flip flopped," Osborne says. "So what we've had to do is move from the relationship-based contracting to more of a commodity."

Choate says, that means getting a leg up on the competition through low bidding.

Chatham County is paying for much of the work through a special purpose local option sales tax.

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