Paragould's economy: how a new sales tax will help the town grow

PARGOULD, AR (KAIT) – The south part of Paragould is one of the sector's of the community that is experiencing the most growth.  In June the city passed a quarter cent sales tax that will be specifically used for economic development.  City leaders are hoping to not only attract new businesses, but also keep the ones they have.

"The moment you stop, the moment you say, 'All right I'm done,' then everybody else passes you by.  There's no stopping.  You're either moving forward or sliding backwards," said Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill.

Gaskill said that is why city leaders feel the new quarter cent sales tax is necessary.

"The state will know that the city of Paragould has additional funds to be able to partner with them for incentives," said Gaskill.

Gaskill said the money will also allow them to prepare for new businesses.

"Whatever it might take to build roads, talk about running water and sewer and those things like that," said Gaskill.

A lot of emphasis is put on economic growth.  Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce Director and CEO Sue McGowan said the reason is simple.

"The basis of your community is people able to have a job as they live in your community,"
 said McGowan.

McGowan said passing this tax was a way for residents to make a personal investment in their future.

"We feel like that it will be an advantage for our community for years to come," said McGowan.

"Our tax is about Paragould.  Our tax is about doing development in Paragould but we also know when something good happens in Paragould, when jobs are created in Paragould it helps all of northeast Arkansas," said Gaskill.

And that development is happening on the south side right off highway 49, the main line directly to Jonesboro and to Memphis.

"What we're primarily trying to do now is develop the area that comes off of highway 69, what we call Jones Road.  That is where the utility plant is and where American Rail Car is.  That is the area that we would like to see," said Gaskill.

The city has already built a spec building and has open land purchased in that area waiting for the next big thing.  While new jobs are an important part of economic development, Gaskill said the money will also be used for job retention.

They start collecting the tax in October, but won't start receiving money until the end of this year.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.