If equipment dealers know where to look, there are number of cooperative-purchasing entities — some of them on a national scale — that can serve as a new source of purchase orders and equipment sales.

Most states have either “interlocal cooperation” or “joint powers” authority to allow local governments to join and participate in programs like the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s “buy board,” called H-GACBuy. This entity is a 13-county cooperative purchasing program.

Follow this link on the U.S. Communities site to see what cooperative purchasing statutes exist in each state that would allow for participation in programs like H-GACBuy. The U.S. Communities government purchasing alliance, which formed in 1996, aggregates the purchasing power of more than 90,000 public agencies across the U.S.

The alliance offers customers the ability to make purchases through existing, competitively solicited contracts between a supplier and a lead public agency, such as city or county governments or school districts.

“We’re leveraging the span of cities, counties, corrections, parks and recreation and other government units so we can drive the costs down, regardless of how large the entity is and save them from having to go through the RFP process,” says Dave Manz, a program manager for U.S. Communities who handles business in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

He says H-GAC is a more regional group and deals primarily with capital purchases, while U.S. Communities, “deals with more of the everyday needs of the government and hard-to-contract items.”

U.S. Communities doesn’t currently work with ag- or turf-related equipment dealerships, although the organization frequently analyzes potential business opportunities. Equipment dealers could one day become active members, he says.

“We’re interested in just about anything that saves the government money, and we can see what the global need is,” Manz says. “We’re not pursuing dealers, but it’s not something we’ve dismissed either.”

Here’s a partial list of major cooperative purchasing entities operating across the U.S.

• H-GACBuy: Based in Houston, H-GACBuy is a regional council of governments, and governed by a board comprised of 35 elected officials from a 13-county region. The board awards all contracts, which can then be made available to local governments nationwide through H-GACBuy. Most of the major tractor and outdoor power equipment makers appear to be active with this group.

ProcureSource: The Urbana, Md., entity lets customers conduct searches, access contract documents and find information needed to confirm if a contract is eligible for use under state laws. ProcureSource then points customers to the cooperative or supplier to begin using the contract. Deere, New Holland, Case IH and Kubota are listed as suppliers.

National Joint Powers Alliance: A public agency that serves as a member-focused cooperative for over 50,000 member agencies nationally. The Staples, Minn., agency allows contracted suppliers and member agencies to work more efficiently, establishing a business and service alliance. Kubota, Deere, New Holland and Case IH are listed vendors.

National Purchasing Partners: Also known as NPPGov, this agency is based in Washington state and owned by Virginia Mason Medical Center. It is a cooperative purchasing organization offering a portfolio of competitively bid, publicly awarded contracts to public entities. Deere and Toro are listed as members of this group.

To see how one manufacturer, John Deere, promotes its agreements, go to this site to view its cooperative purchasing program. Deere has agreements with H-GACBuy, the National Joint Powers Alliance and National Purchasing Partners.