Spend $20 on the 20th

Published 10:39 pm Monday, May 18, 2009

While Barack Obama may be the current president of the U.S., local merchants are hoping for a visit from a different president Wednesday — Andrew Jackson, whose face appears on the $20 bill.

The campaign to “Spend $20 on the 20th” asks Covington County citizens to spend $20 at a locally-owned business this Wednesday (May 20), in order to boost the local economy. The Andalusia Star-News, the city of Andalusia and the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce are joining together to sponsor the campaign, which is similar to other campaigns that will take place across the U.S.

“If I look at revenue streams for the city, the largest — by far — is sales tax collection,” Andalusia City Clerk John Thompson said. “That’s how we provide services to our citizens, is through those sales taxes. It’s necessary for us to have a strong retail pace, because that’s what generates those sales tax revenues.

Economic experts suggest that every dollar spent locally “multiplies” anywhere from three to five times. That means that if every person in Covington County (approximately 38,000 residents) spent $20 locally, it could generate as much as $3.8 million in total economic impact.

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson explained that every dollar spent in Andalusia generates 4 cents of sales tax with local benefits — 2 cents go to the city and 2 cents to the county. The remaining 4 cents go to the state.

“Shopping locally does a lot of good for our area,” Johnson said. “Number one, it supports our local merchants, who are our neighbors and the people we go to church with and the people who do business with us. Number two, it generates sales tax, which helps provide the many services our citizens have come to depend upon and need.

“Number three, is that if we expect our community to survive, prosper and do well, then we’ve got to do our part to make sure that happens. That’s just the common sense of doing business locally.”

Many local businesses are participating in the county-wide campaign, and are expected to offer “Spend $20 on the 20th” stickers for citizens to proudly wear and show they did their part to make the economic boost a success.

“I’m a firm believer in shopping at home,” said David McBrayer, owner of Andalusia Sewing Center. “We need to shop at home, because that’s paying for our paved streets and other major services. Plus, by the time you pay for gas and everything else, how much money are you really saving by going out of town?”

Thompson added that spending locally has a “domino” effect.

“If you only look at the sales tax revenues alone, then it’s already had a phenomenal impact,” he said. “But then you also should look at the residual effect; those businesses will take those revenues and use them to re-invest, hire more workers and increase their inventories.

“I can’t say enough about how much it makes our job (as city workers) easier and better when we have strong local support and a strong local economy.”