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Hartselle Enquirer

Pennies for progress

While writing copy for Hartselle Enquirer’s annual Progress Edition last week I was reminded again of just how important it is to shop at home.

This year’s Progress stories, which will be published later this month, focus on  businesses that have risen to the top in the Hartselle business community in spite of  facing difficult obstacles along the way. Most of the founders/owners took a giant leap in faith to get their businesses off the ground, invested long hours of hard work with little pay in the early years and consider customer satisfaction to be the backbone in their success.

Opening a business is one thing but keeping its doors open is a horse of a different color. Empty storefronts in the central business district underscore that point. How often have we seen a promising new business come to town, stay a few months and close its doors because it can’t make ends meet?

Shoppers with money to spend are essential to the success of any business. Moreover,  sales taxes collected by local retail businesses go a long way in determining how much money city government has to spend for public services.

I was made aware of that several years ago when I was the mayor of Hartselle. Every month I would keep my fingers crossed waiting for the sales tax revenue to come in.

In order to meet budget, it was essential that year-to-year business sales at least equaled what they the same month in the prior year.

The smallest decline would trigger a re-evaluation of anticipated budget expenditures and set in motion backup plans in the event the trend persisted. Where could cuts be made without reducing the services offered to the city’s residents in education, police protection, fire and rescue, public works and parks and recreation.

A one-cent sales tax on a dollar purchase doesn’t seem like much when it is viewed alone. However, when multiplied by the city’s 14,000 residents it is enough to meet the bond payment on the new Hartselle High School.

“Shop Hartselle First” is a slogan worth remembering the next time you and your friends eat out, fill up your car with gas or go shopping at a big box store in another city.

Clif Knight is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.

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