COMMENTARY: Chamber Investment Pays Dividends

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The Chamber of Commerce has a mission of increasing visibility for the community, increasing customer traffic for the community, and increasing sales revenue for the community. That work benefits the community through the creation of jobs and increase in tax revenues which then go to support the schools, parks, roads and other basic government functions.

The Chamber is not a government entity, but has a role that benefits the public and private sectors. As a realtor doing business in Cannon County, I believe the Chamber helps set an atmosphere and image that attracts potential new residents to the area and helps current residents to see the benefits of staying in this community.

The sale of houses, especially in this economy, impacts the local tax base and throws many dollars into the community beyond the price of a home: advertising dollars flow through our media outlets and print shops, attorneys and title companies prosper, contractors find new work, hardware and furniture stores generate new revenue, real estate transfer fees benefit local and state government coffers.

The Chamber is now exploring various marketing options which have the potential to bring in new tourists and their money. Sales tax levied on those visits replenishes potential tax allocations to partially fund the Chamber.

Members of the Chamber span the breadth of the local economy and well understand the returns needed to justify an investment. Investing in the Chamber with modest local government funding has the potential to return significant dollars to many sectors of our local economy.

Neal Appelbaum
Affiliate Broker, Reed Realty
President, Cannon County Chamber
of Commerce

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Members Opinions:
June 24, 2012 at 10:38pm
Neal, It's great seeing the Chamber taking a progressive foot forward in the community. Good luck in your endeavors. Chambers of Commerce can be a vitally important organization for communities. Would suggest more visible signage for the local chamber so visitors to Woodbury may more easily find it. As a real estate agent, you understand the merits of "curb appeal." First impressions of Woodbury and Cannon County might first be well established in a nice facility for the Chamber.
June 25, 2012 at 11:50pm
By: Anna , Well said Bonnie,When my Son had the BBQ Place on the square, Vistors as well as locals were aways inquiring if we had a Chamber of Commerce,and were it might be located.As most are aware, that it always closes at noon so it never helped much.As a Board member I would love to see new life come to past with the Chamber.Sincerly, my Husband and I have two lots on North Tatum but only one with a building. I would love to see the Square as well as all of Town and even reaching out into the County grow amd prosper in a way we could all be proud of.
Lets work toward a common goal.
June 26, 2012 at 7:49am
Anna, Judging from the poll on whether the County should make available $10,000 to the Chamber of Commerce, it appears 3/4 of Courier readers are opposed to such an idea. Clearly Neal and the Chamber members have a tough sale to make if ever the Chamber receives public assistance. Neals commentary above is a good beginning toward explaining what such funding could do to assist the county economically. This commentary alone, however, will not suffice to turn the tide of opinion. The Chamber most likely will not receive such funding during a year when budget cuts are more the norm than funding new projects. The Chamber must sell the idea as a necessity for the future of growth in Cannon County. A clear plan for use of such funds must accompany the request. Specifics should be supplied the tax payer that will be asked to fund the request. Such an investment of funding could well be the most valuable investment the county has made in many years. Tax payers must see the Chamber as an asset rather than another liability. How can the Chamber change this perception? What is their current value to the economy? With a plan in motion, what will be the expected revenue advantages and over what period of time can they be realized? By applying dollars and sense to this request, the tax payer may be able to see the advantages for funding such a request. More importantly, the budget committee and the county commission must be able to see it. A Chamber with little or no revenue cannot accomplish much toward affecting the overall county economy. And it looks like 3/4 of the Courier readers prefer it to remain that way.
June 27, 2012 at 8:10am
Perhaps if the poll had asked if the county should give a lower amount other than $10,000 it might have garnered more support. I understand that was what was asked for, but a lesser amount might have had different result on the poll.

I personally voted no in the poll to not give $10,000 because of the financial situation we face with the strong possibility of another property tax increase just to pay for the services we require and need.

However, I do believe to only give the Chamber $50.00 a year is a slap in the face to the idea of trying to "increase the visibility of our community" as Neal states above. Somewhere there has to be a middle ground on giving the Chamber the money it needs to make that happen.

IF the County Commissioners decides to place the sales tax referendum on the ballot in November and IF by some miracle the people were to vote to increase their own taxes then I would suggest giving the Chamber the full $10,000 it requested.

From what was previously reported, the sales tax increase would generate $450,000 of which $225,000 would automatically go to the schools and the county could use the rest as they pleased. Well, here is a perfect opportunity to reinvest into our own community by using tax dollars that the public voted on.

What would there be to complain about then?
June 29, 2012 at 10:15pm
Corey, Excellent solution! A sales tax is far more fairer than a property tax increase. Everyone has to pay sales tax while only property owners have to pay property taxes.
July 02, 2012 at 12:45pm
What does the sales tax boil down to roughly to the individual consumer? How much of an impact?
July 02, 2012 at 1:36pm
To those who can afford it, it is simply another tax. To those (of who I know personally) who count every dollar it means a lot. When your disability check is $900 a month for example you worry about where every dollar you spend goes.

The Commissioners will be asking the citizens to increase their own taxes in an economy such as this while the State of Tennessee just voted to lower the sales tax on food items.

The will also ask for the increase knowing that 1/2 of whatever revenue is brought in will automatically go to the schools of which they will have no control over how it is spent.

They will also ask for the increase with no plan on where the other half of the revenue it brings in will be spent. And if it is like any other revenue generated it will be gone in a matter of moments and when it runs out we will be back to the property tax increase.

Does that really seem like a good plan to anyone?
July 02, 2012 at 2:31pm
The plan is no good, until they can PROVE they can cut costs, run efficiently, AND there is no other way to maintain the county. Also, the schools are govt. run and thus subject to the county, until they hand over control and be transparent and justify their spending as well, no tax should be approved. This is not the time to be asking taxes when they are not willing to curtail needless and inefficient spending.
July 04, 2012 at 8:04am
The County Commissioners only power over the school system is to approve or disapprove the budget the school system submits. What the schools do with the money once the budget is approved is entirely up to the school board. That is why you have seen some salaried positions double over the last few years while everyone else in the county gets a big fat zero for a raise.

The only way to ensure the schools system is accountable and transparent is for the Commissioners to make a resolution and create a centralized accounting system for the entire county. At that point, the schools cannot opt out of being in that system. If they vote for the 1984 act, then the schools can opt out of it.

As far as spending cuts, I am not sure what else can be cut without eliminating services completely or laying off employees and in some cases that is not feasible either. I have been to several Commissioners meetings and I have not seen anything that I would consider inefficient or frivolous in the way of spending.

I am against the sales tax increase for three reasons.

1. This tax hurts the poorest people of our community.
2. In these economic times it is beyond stupid to raise taxes, especially when our state is actually lowering them.
3. Lastly, there are no plans to use the money generated wisely. Half of the amount goes to a school system that is outdated and antiquated and according to the Commissioners I've talked to receives a lot more money now than is required by the State and is needed to run it.

We need more money to run our county and we have schools with 140 students K-8 and nine teachers at a cost of $800,000 a year and they want me to vote to raise my taxes.

Good luck with that idea.
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