Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Want Economic Development – Buy Local

With the news that Bitmain is “Scaling Back Operations,” many in Milam County are asking what’s next? Everyone is looking for the Homerun that will put Milam County back in the positive as far as tax base goes and help lower the tax rate that threatens to still go higher in the near future.

As reality starts to set in, it’s important to realize that a tax base and county-wide gravy train like ALCOA only comes along once in a long while. To continue on with the baseball analogy, and truth be told, any good baseball coach will tell you that homeruns rarely win you the game. It’s when a team puts together the base hits and solid overall offense that the game is won.

ALCOA was a homerun and every since they folded up shop, Milam County has been looking for the next grand slam. It’s time to get serious about economic development in Milam County and that starts, like all things political, at the local level. So, in short, the local level is where we have to start if we truly want to build a stronger Milam County.

I’ve looked around and there really isn’t anything you need, or want, that can’t be found right here in Milam County. From groceries, to clothing, to household supplies, to building materials, to auto dealers, to furniture, to any list of items you could need; It’s all right here in Milam County. I hear the arguments all the time; from it’s too expensive to there’s not enough selection, you make the argument and I guarantee you I’ve already heard it. So what’s the truth?

It’s your money, do what you want with it, but when businesses fold in Milam County we all lose. You might spend a bit more to shop at home and you might not be able to get that exact designer brand you had your heart set on, but when you shop local you are supporting you neighbors, friends, and your own pocket book over the long run. And when you leave the county to do you shopping, the county loses out on the tax money generated by the sales, and in turn so do the Milam County Tax-payers.

When you buy in Temple, Bell county enjoys the windfall of your purchase, Milam County gets nothing. If you buy in Bryan, Brazos County wins; buy in Austin, Travis County gains; buy in Waco and McLennan County adds to their coffers. See the trend?

When you shop out of county for items and stores fold in Milam County, the tax base shrinks. When Milam County citizens leave the county to find work, the county loses a tax-payer and the tax base shrinks. When the tax base shrinks, the tax rate has to go up to pay for county services.

I hear all the time, ”if there was an HEB here in Milam County I’d shop there, but I have to go to Temple/Taylor/Bryan/Waco to use HEB?”

GUESS WHAT…. If we all “sacrificed” some and shopped locally for a while, HEB would notice and build in Milam County. BUT… HEB doesn’t build in Milam County because they know you’ll make the 25-45 minute trip to the nearest HEB. They don’t need to come to Milam County because Milam County will come to them.

We have three car dealerships in Milam County and several used car lots, yet how many people take the trip down the road and buy a car and give their tax money to other counties. That’s a lot of money every year that leaves Milam County.

Home improvements are an always an ongoing occurrence, yet every hardware store and lumber yard in Milam County struggles while you drive to the next county over to shop at the big chain store. I’m not sure, but I think most of the local stores employ local Milam County folks and help sponsor a great deal of the charitable works throughout the county. You don’t see too many of the big chain stores helping around Milam County.

Patronizing local businesses are the base hits that win a game. Sure it would be nice to hit the homerun, but the base hits and the full team press of a shopping local are what makes for a strong tax base, a lower tax rate, greater overall economic development, and a more prosperous Milam County. We might not be able to draw the Home Run, but each of us can make the base hits it takes to keep Milam County Strong.

Batter Up,