New Wal­mart ex­pected to boost county’s sales tax rev­enue,

The Covington News - - Front page - GABRIEL KHOULI Staff Re­porter

Of­fi­cials hope new store will boost county sales tax rev­enue

Ali­cia Reynolds woke up early to at­tend Wal­mart’s grand open­ing Wed­nes­day, and her choice for break­fast — ba­nanas and pop­corn chicken — were the first pur­chase made at the new Su­per­center at the in­ter­sec­tion of Brown Bridge and Salem Roads.

The 50-year-old Cony­ers res­i­dent was one of 6,000 to 7,000 cus­tomers Man­ager Ron Till­man said he ex­pected to shop at the store on a daily ba­sis. Her pres­ence bodes well for New­ton County, which is hop­ing to turn the sales tax ta­bles on Rock­dale County, which has pil­fered rev­enue from New­ton for years.

New­ton County res­i­dents spend an es­ti­mated $1.5 bil­lion per year on goods and ser­vices and only 50 per­cent of that money is be­ing spent in New­ton, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal of­fi­cials.

“I def­i­nitely plan to come here. It’s only seven min­utes away from my house, and a

“We are thrilled to have you here. We ap­pre­ci­ate Wal­mart for mak­ing this choice, this in­vest­ment and for choos­ing our county.”

Kathy Mor­gan New­ton County Chair­man

lot closer than the other Wal­mart in Cony­ers,” Reynolds said.

This new Wal­mart is ap­prox­i­mately 10 miles from the Cov­ing­ton Wal­mart on Inud­s­trial Boule­vard, ac­cord­ing to Google maps, and county Chair­man Kathy Mor­gan said the near­est com­peti­tor is 8.5 miles away.

“And if you live on the western side of New­ton County, and 50 per­cent of our pop­u­la­tion lives west of the Yel­low River…in that 8.5 mile range, you have to drive 10 to 15 min­utes ev­ery time you need to run to Wal­mart to pick up some­thing for home­work for your chil­dren, a t-shirt, a pre­scrip­tion, any­thing in this area. So we have re­ally been look­ing for­ward to this store,” Mor­gan said.

Mor­gan said she hopes the store will not only at­tract Cony­ers res­i­dents but also those from Henry County, as the near­est com­peti­tor driv­ing south is 22 miles away.

“We are thrilled to have you here. We ap­pre­ci­ate Wal­mart for mak­ing this choice, this in­vest­ment and for choos­ing our county. And I hope you are so busy you have to dou­ble your em­ploy­ees in or­der to keep the busi­ness here,” Mor­gan told the group of em­ploy­ees, Wal­mart man­age­ment and lo­cal of­fi­cials who had gath­ered for the rib­bon cut­ting cer­e­mony.

The 176,000 square­foot build­ing em­ploys 314 work­ers, about 90 per­cent of whom are New­ton County res­i­dents, said Till­man pre­vi­ously. The store is open daily from 6 a.m. to mid­night.

Mor­gan said pre­vi­ously that the rule of thumb for an es­tab­lished Su­per­center - one that’s been open for three to five years - is that it will gen­er­ate $1 mil­lion in rev­enue for each one per­cent of sales tax, which would add $3 mil­lion to lo­cal tax cof­fers.

“The big­gest op­por­tu­nity I see here is that cus­tomers had to travel so far to get their ev­ery­day needs, and at a time when the econ­omy is bad peo­ple don’t want to do all that ex­tra driv­ing,” Charles Rus­sell, a mar­ket man­ager with Wal­mart, told The News. “They want ways they can re­duce their life­style costs,”

Wal­mart’s rib­bon cut­ting was a fes­tive event filled with mu­sic. Till­man’s next door neigh­bor Gary Griggs per­formed the Na­tional An­them, while a group of em­ploy­ees per­formed a group dance and the dance team from West New­ton El­e­men­tary School per­formed one of its rou­tines.

Gabriel Khouli/the Cov­ing­ton News

Ali­cia Reynolds, of Cony­ers, made the first pur­chase at the Salem Road Wal­mart, which opened for busi­ness Wed­nes­day. Cony­ers res­i­dents shop­ping in New­ton County is a wel­come change for lo­cal of­fi­cials.

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