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Live-event business asks City of Waco to prioritize local companies for events

Posted at 9:04 AM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 10:04:26-04

WACO, TX — Local stage lighting and production companies are wanting answers, after their bids to work Waco's Fourth of July events were denied.

Sources say the city contracted a company outside of Central Texas but city officials would not confirm as of Wednesday, and say they followed the city's standard process for bid selection.

"You know you hear the phrase it takes a village, well it also means you have to support the village as well," says Paul Kocel with Summit Group Events Services.

According to the concert trade publication Pollstar, after a year of shut downs cost the industry more than 30-billion dollars nationally.

"Normally the show season is memorial day to labor day and then you take a break and then you go into the holiday season," says Kocel.

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted Waco businesses like Summit Group Event Services, Hendrix Productions LLC and L&G Sound put in bids to work stage lighting and sound for upcoming city events like Fourth of July, only to be shot down.

"We're hopeful we get to bid on things in the future we're thankful for the opportunity, I'm disappointed, I would've loved to have that opportunity to work right for our own local city, but I know that we nor any other local company got it," syas Kocel.

Kocel says while his business isn't the traditional mom and pop shop, It should still be a priority to go local.

Missing out on big events like the Fourth celebration prevents his his industry from recovering.

"The people who typically work this industry and want to work this industry and see the benefits and the money you can make in this industry, they're not jumping on board just yet. They want to see all the work there, then they're going to jump on board," says Kocel.

Kocel says right now they're relying on smaller gigs such as church events and local restaurants and bars like the Back Yard, who says hiring local for live events is their first priority.

"The local guys work harder, they want it right, they're our friends, they're our neighbors, to where the other guys are just doing a job," says Chris Cox, the owner of the Backyard.

Cox says they city may have denied Kocel and other local bids if they're on the proper contract list, or because of equipment or cost.

Kocel says going local is priceless.

"That might not be the cheapest cup of coffee, or that might not be the cheapest burger, but it's local and we want to support local businesses. I think they should lead the way and lead by example as well."

Kocel and others hope the city can implement future guidelines to prioritize local companies for live-events before exploring other options.