Selling Meridian

By  | 

In recent years, local government leaders agreed to use taxpayer dollars to build infrastructure to attract a new mall, a Super Walmart and Lowe's.

Have the newer, larger businesses only shifted the amount of money generated from sales taxes? Meridian city clerk Ed Skipper says it's more than that.

"There's been tremendous growth. Obviously, the mall has had tremendous impact and our sales tax has grown approximately $1.8 million as far as the city's concerned," Skipper said.

The actual sales tax figures are approximately $9.8 million in 1997 to a projected $11.6 million for the current fiscal year.

"Converting the sales tax dollars that the city gets to the sales, it's something in the range of $138 million or nearly $139 million dollars in additional sales," said Skipper.

Stan Sanders, owner of Meridian's McDonald's restaurants says his businesses have felt a ripple effect.

"Since the Wal-Mart has opened, the McDonald's at Frontage Road has had an increase of about 22 percent and the store at Bonita has been up about 10 or 11 percent," said Sanders.

Ken Storms, the city's chief administrative officer said, in 1997, the city's problem was obvious.

"What we were having at that particular time was a lot of our own citizens going other places to do shopping for a very good reason. They couldn't get things here," Storms said.

The situation has now apparently reversed itself. Storms said 60 percent of the retail dollars spent locally come from outside Lauderdale County.

Scanning the mall parking lot Wednesday indicated some evidence of that. License plates showed customers have come from near and far to shop in Meridian. Storms said another major retailer may be announced soon.