5.3.3-1ubuntu9.10 Will Benton County Follow? | Arkansas Business News | ArkansasBusiness.com

Will Benton County Follow?

Benton County voters have the opportunity during the Nov. 6 election to choose to legalize alcohol sales across the county.  

Steuart and Tom Walton, grandsons of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. founder Sam Walton, are major financial backers of Keep Dollars in Benton County, a group pushing for the county to go wet.

(Click here for a related story on the economic impact of liquor sales in Boone and Clark counties, which went wet in 2010.) 

“Moving Benton County from a dry to wet county is all about economics for the county. We will be keeping millions of dollars of taxes in Benton County to support our police, fire, schools and parks,” Marshall Ney, a spokesman for the group, said in an email.

The organization commissioned the University of Arkansas’ Center for Business & Economic Research to study the possible economic impact of going wet.

The study “estimates that the direct annual economic impact of converting Benton County from wet to dry would be approximately $22 million, and the total annual economic impact would be approximately $33 million,” Ney said. “There is no doubt that wet counties benefit from more tax revenues staying in that county.”

Bentonville, the county seat, is home not only to the headquarters of Wal-Mart, but is the site of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the cultural palace that opened in November and is largely funded by the Walton family.