Shop Central First

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An Editorial by Dave Freneaux

     "Shop Central First" is more than a catchy marketing phrase.  To me, it means that I should support the businesses in the Central area, the businesses owned by the people of Central, and the businesses that serve Central.  The first and most obvious reason to Shop Central First is Sales Taxes.  Our City Government and our School System are both funded in large part by Sales Taxes.  Growth in Central is unavoidable, even if every effort is made to slow it down.  That growth in homes and schools will require more tax dollars to support our infrastructure and schools.  Central has what is called "Sales Tax Leakage", which is the measure of how much of the sales taxes paid by Central residents is spent outside of Central.  In our case, it is estimated at 49%, with almost half of our sales tax dollars being spent in neighboring towns.  That means if we could do 100% of our shopping in Central, we would increase our City's annual budget by over $4 million and send an additional $6 million into our School System, all at no additional cost to the taxpayers.

    In contrast, our neighboring Denham Springs has "Negative Sales Tax Leakage," meaning they collect two times as much in sales taxes as their taxpayers spend.  Where does the money come from?  From people coming in from outside of Denham and shopping at Bass Pro, the businesses at the interstate interchanges, and the antique mall area.  Central does not currently have many ways to attract sales tax dollars from those outside of Central.  That is one challenge faced by an Economic Development effort.  Another challenge is to bring businesses to Central which will allow our citizens to buy things in Central that they normally would have driven to Baton Rouge or Livingston to purchase.  I have heard suggestions on that issue ranging from clothing stores to a movie theater.  Many are hopeful that as Central grows, the first growth is to attract businesses we do not currently have.  That is a step in stopping sales tax leakage.

    So, why "Shop Central First"?  Sales tax revenues aside, the people of Central own many of these businesses and work in these businesses.  Shopping in these businesses benefits our friends, neighbors and relatives…which in turn benefits Central's economy as a whole.  We also have opportunities to spend our dollars with businesses located outside of Central which are owned by Central citizens.  These business owners pay property taxes in Central and many of them are among Central's most generous supporters of Schools and charitable efforts right here in Central.

    A few weeks ago Mia and I were headed down Wax Road to check out a new Mexican restaurant a friend told us about in Denham Springs, then, in a sudden fit of loyalty to Central, we turned in to the parking lot of Caliente and spent our tax dollars in Central.  It may have only amounted to a couple of dollars, but we are only two of Central's 27,000 residents, and that was only one shopping choice of the many to be made that week.  Dollars turn into thousands which can turn into millions for our City and Schools in the coming years.  This can only happen as reasonable Economic Development efforts bring us the businesses we truly need, and we in turn make the effort to Shop Central First.  That….can be Good News for a Great City.

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