HOUSTON --Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced a plan to award more city contracts to local businesses. The mayor is calling it the Hire Houston First program and its purpose is to keep city contract dollars in our region. The announcement Thursday morning was held at the Julia Ideson Library downtown among business leaders and the workers refurbishing the building. It's a $32 million project which the mayor pointed out was undertaken almost completely by local contractors. The Hire Houston First program would allow the city to go with local area businesses as long as they're within five percent of the lowest bid on projects under $100,000 and within three percent of the lowest bid on projects of more than $100,000. It would basically give heavy consideration to businesses in Harris County and surrounding counties. "This is a very tough economy. A lot of companies are scrambling to keep their doors open, to keep people employed," said Mayor Parker. "The city of Houston annual budget is $4 billion. If we can keep more of that money here, circulating locally, we all benefit." When it comes to the mayor's proposal in order to be considered as a local area business, you have to have at least 20 percent of your workforce here in the Houston area. This is just a proposal, so it still must be approved by City Council when the mayor puts it before council on August 10.