Shopping locally supports our local community

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Well, it’s that time of year, yet again. All the hustle and bustle to attend various open houses, get to the next shopping destination, and making sure you’re home in time to hide the gifts from your spouse or kids. It seems like it comes faster and faster with each year! As you do your shopping this year, I want to encourage you to do it with intention — intention to support your community by shopping locally.
Shopping locally helps support our school systems. Many people may not be aware of this, but every time you make a purchase in Elizabethton, a portion of the sales tax goes directly into an account that is dedicated for city schools capital improvements. Many of the recent improvements at East Side and West Side Elementary schools were paid for out of funds from these sales taxes. Additionally, whenever the city schools borrow money against this sales tax revenue, a portion also goes to the county school system. So, when you make a purchase big or small in Elizabethton, you are helping to support and create a better education system in Elizabethton and Carter County.
Shopping locally and especially small helps support Elizabethton and Carter County’s local economy. When you shop at a small business in Elizabethton a larger percentage of the money you spend stays in our community and, kind of like at a bank, grows and generates additional income for others in our community. When you spend 100 dollars, 48 dollars stay in Elizabethton if it was spent at a small business, 14 dollars stay in Elizabethton if it was spent at a local business, 1 dollar stays in Elizabethton if it was purchased online and shipped to Elizabethton, and 0 dollars stay in Elizabethton if you make the purchase in Johnson City, Bristol, Kingsport, or Knoxville. Shopping with small, local businesses encourages new small businesses to open and small businesses are more likely to support community events and organizations like a little league team and the Covered Bridge Festival.
Shopping local helps support our city and our county. When you shop local, the city receives a portion of that sale in the form of sales tax which is used to pay for better roads, police and fire services, and funds our schools. But the other side of this is that it encourages new businesses to locate in Elizabethton. If our Peebles and Burkes had some of the highest sales in East Tennessee, this would pique the interest of other clothing retailers and stores like Ross or Marshalls may be interested in coming to Elizabethton to take some profit from the stores we currently have. This means more sales tax for Elizabethton, more variety of stores for our citizens, and more property taxes coming to Elizabethton and Carter County meaning our residents aren’t required to shoulder as much of the tax burden.
We estimate that Elizabethton and Carter County loose over 120 million dollars of retail sales per year; that’s 11 million dollars in sales tax to Elizabethton and Carter County. Now, I’m not naive enough to believe that we will completely capture ALL the retail sales for our citizens, but even a small fraction of that 11 million dollars in sales tax revenue could mean the difference between a property tax increase or not. This holiday season shop small local businesses first, chain local businesses second, and other businesses in Johnson City or Bristol third. Let’s talk about it!
(Jon Hartman is Director of Planning & Economic Development for the City of Elizabethton. He can be contacted at 542-1503 or email:

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