A Liquid Market: Newly Wet Counties See Modest Tax Growth

by Kate Knable  on Monday, Oct. 8, 2012 12:00 am  

Rodney Hurst, right, and Mitch Pennington own Little Mo's Liquor Store in Gurdon, one of the four package liquor stores permitted in Clark County since voters there decided to "go wet" two years ago. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

Mark McGarrah’s Express Liquor in Harrison opened Nov. 4, and looks like it will turn a profit its first year in business, McGarrah said. A major change that his store and the others have brought to Boone County is convenience, he said.

“I think for the most part people are pretty happy they don’t have to drive and stock up,” he said.

Boone County Judge James Norton declined to be interviewed for this story.

Neighboring Marion County went wet in 2006, the first county to do so since the number of voter signatures required to get the question on the ballot was raised to a daunting 38 percent in 1993. It, then, has had a head start in experiencing any economic growth from the transition.

James Giles, Marion County judge, said he thought liquor stores had provided about 50 jobs in his county, about half of them part-time jobs.

“It’s not been a world-changer, but I think that people probably spending their money in the county versus outside the county has helped some,” Giles said of going wet.

He thinks Marion County could use a hotel from a major chain and nice restaurants, and the freedom to serve alcohol is part of attracting those, he said.

“We’re set up right now so that at least they would look at us,” Giles said.

And Giles believes going wet will play a part long term in attracting new industry and preventing young county residents from moving away.

“People want all the commodities. They want water, good restaurants, good roads,” Giles said. “If you ain’t got the whole package, it’s hard to sell anything. You’ve got to have the whole package.”



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