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City of Laurel hoping to break sales tax record

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 8:05 PM CDT
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LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - The City of Laurel’s tourism economy is booming, and sales tax has a lot to do with it.

As the fiscal year 2021 comes to a close, the City of Laurel is set to surpass its sales tax record.

“We’re hoping we can do at least $10 million dollars for sales tax, which will be a record in the City of Laurel,” said Johnny Magee, mayor of Laurel.

The city broke its own monthly sales tax record in May. It brought in over $970,000 in sales tax that month alone.

As Magee explains, this revenue helps the citizens of Laurel.

“Sales tax goes into what’s called the general fund,” Magee said. “The general fund funds the police department, the fire department, it cleans the streets, it takes care of sidewalks...”

A big driving factor for the increase in sales tax is the downtown area.

“If you came downtown about five years ago, the difference that is the hustle and bustle on a Saturday is just so different from what it used to be,” said Susan Ladd, executive director of Laurel Main Street. “And so, more people see the value in coming downtown and how they can start their own business.”

Organizations like Laurel Main Street work to draw people to the city.

“Our goal for Main Street is to create a Laurel footprint that is worth coming to,” said Ladd. “So, we want to help those businesses that are coming to town to have a community to build around to help support them.”

It does that through events like Wine Down Downtown, which happens six times a year. On September 17, locals and tourists will come to the downtown area from 5 - 8 p.m. to shop while they sip wine.

“Super easy. Come thirsty, pay (and) leave.” Ladd said. “So, all you need to do is it’s $15 for a ticket and that’s unlimited sampling for all the wines.”

This year, 20 businesses are participating. One of them is Sullivan & Sons. It’s a general store selling things like sweet treats.

“Our house specialty is actually fruit cobbler, so we always have a special cobbler that we serve with ice cream,” said Emily Sullivan, owner of Sullivan & Sons.

Sullivan says Wine Down Downtown brings great exposure to downtown businesses.

“It really brought a lot of locals, which we were excited about because I feel like in Laurel and even in Mississippi. We’re looking for things to do,” Sullivan said. “And so, these activities where we can all gather downtown, we were really happy to see locals coming down and participating.”

Wine Down Downtown is happening again on Oct. 15th and Nov. 12th. Tickets can be bought at the gate or online.

There are two check-in tents, one at the corner of Central Avenue and N Magnolia Street, and the other in the yard beside Laurel Mercantile, Co. on Front Street. For a link to tickets, click here.

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