08/19/2019
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By Charlotte Smith

Local business owners have reported sales down for 2019 and the county’s sales tax revenue is down as well. 

Commissioner Arthur Bullock stated recently, “We need more small businesses.”

Bullock and other county commissioners have been discussing the decline in sales tax and the decrease in people shopping local. 

Bladen County Manager, Greg Martin said the sales tax has dropped about nine and a half percent. 

The proclamation made by Governor Roy Cooper this week came at a good time to remind people of the importance of local businesses. 

According to Governor’s proclamation, May 5 through 11, 2019 is Small Business Week in the state. 

Gov. Cooper said, “Small businesses are the heart and soul of North Carolina’s communities, economy and future prosperity,” Gov. Cooper continued, “From cutting-edge tech startups to long-established hometown businesses, small enterprises employ nearly 45 percent of our private-sector workforce.”

Since the hurricane last September  through March this year, sales have been down according to some local business owners. 

Ricky Leinwand owner of Leinwand’s, a local clothing store on W. Broad Street agreed. 

The last five out of eight months since last October sales have been down Lienwand explained. 

“However, we recovered nicely in April and May,” Leinwand said. 

The Easter holiday, prom season, Mother’s Day, graduations and the White Lake Water Festival, Memorial Day sales and Father’s Day coming soon were the reason for Leinwand’s optimism. 

Delayed and decrease amounts in income  tax checks, and the hurricane were a couple of reasons listed for decreased revenues for his sales. 

Bladen County Commissioner, Ray Britt who is also a local business owner of Ray’s Inc. a furniture, jewelry and framing store also attested to down sales and the reasons behind the decrease in sales tax. Not only are the tax refunds effecting sales, but people are going out of our county to spend money, Britt brought up in a recent discussion in a commissioners meeting. 

“We encourage our local people to shop local first.  We price match. We don’t take a back seat to anyone,” Leinwand said. 

Another tactic is a regional marketing approach which helps Leinwand’s business. Leinwand explained when he graduated college Bladen County residents were responsible for about 90% of the sales and in 2019 the mother county takes 4th place for county contributors. 

“It’s because we are a smaller county in population,” Leinwand said. 

Bladen County has about 33,000 residents where some surrounding counties have anywhere from 100,000 to 80,000 citizens. 

“We are a regional store,” Leinwands stated. 

As business owners continue to work on marketing strategies and offering exceptional customer service political leaders are working on legislation as well as proclamations. 

In April, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) co-sponsored the bipartisan Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act, legislation that would support small businesses by removing burdensome restrictions from individuals who want to invest in startups and help create jobs, according to Representative Tillis. 

“Small business investors play a crucial role in allowing start-ups to grow and create more jobs, but too often face unnecessary regulatory requirements that deter investment,” said Senator Tillis. “This bipartisan legislation will remove burdensome regulations so we can invest in our small business and continue to grow our economy.”

Small businesses, which make up more than 99 percent of all businesses in the state, created nearly 51,000 new jobs in North Carolina in 2015, according to the SBA’s latest figures. Strikingly, companies with fewer than 20 employees accounted for more than 30,000 of those new jobs.

“Growth in the number and success of even the smallest enterprises can have a significant effect on employment opportunities across the state, particularly in our small towns and rural communities,” said state Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland.

Elected officials and business leaders all agree shopping local and supporting small business helps the economy as a whole. 

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