Whew! Providing a huge helping of Southern hospitality is really hard work! The months of August and September were spent in preparation for the 7th Annual Harvest Festival and the crowds of visitors that we knew would be in attendance. In my last column, I explained to you that these visitors are actually tourists and their visit to our community also meant a boost to our local economy. Well, we had a huge crowd all day long at the Festival not only on the Square but in the other special Festival venues as well. It was our goal to put the “Harvest” back into the Festival with plenty of agricultural events to showcase Berrien County’s number 1 industry. From the antique tractor parade to Old McDonald reading, singing & demonstrating an antique corn sheller as well as the fun contest events which featured numerous agricultural themes, I believe the Festival had something for everyone.
The Festival is over but various tourist opportunities were not during the month of October. Remember Hurricane Matthew? We had a lot of visitors that evacuated to Nashville to get out of the way of the hurricane. Our Place Hotel had turned away 50 guests by Wednesday before the storm. The Nashville Inn was also full of hurricane evacuees. Visitors mean outside money for our economy and while we prefer not to profit on others misfortune we certainly were pleased that Nashville was chosen for their destination. This is why it is so important to extend Southern hospitality and keep our town clean and welcoming.
During October, the Chamber and Nashville Main Street entertained 20 wives from Moody Air Force Base by taking them around Nashville to visit various retail businesses and showing them what Nashville has to offer. Nashville had a lot to offer because the ladies left with a variety of shopping bags and goody bags with coupons for their next visit.
The Chamber also hosted the Berrien County Sheriff’s forum on October 13. While this event was not one intended to raise sales tax revenue, it probably did as those in attendance may have spent money dining before or after the forum. On Friday night, October 14, Tammy Kendrick held a concert at the Nashville Community Center introducing her CD she recently recorded in Nashville, Tennessee (the other Nashville) which brought more visitors to our city. Following her concert, a concert by the Danny Dawson band was held at the VFW bringing additional people into our town. The visitors enjoyed some great country music but most importantly, they spent money.
The Chamber and Nashville Main Street also presented a great concert, Nashville South Jams at Horse Creek Winery on October 22 featuring Blake Brown, Brent Browning and the Dixieland 5 and a reunion appearance by the original The River! This event was well attended from far and wide! How do I know? Well, from the ticket sales which showed people attending far beyond Nashville, GA. Again, visitors to our town (the real Nashville), spending money.
The Lady Rebs softball team also helped the town by winning the Region Championship which was played right here in Nashville, Georgia. They also hosted two rounds of the state tournament as well. The opposing teams brought their fans to Nashville so this hopefully meant money spent here in our local economy. All sports activities are vital to economic development when rival teams come into our county to compete.
October also means Halloween. This means people are purchasing costumes and candy! Halloween night is also a busy night for our restaurants as well. On a side note, we have three new restaurants in town, “All the Fixin’s,” Haley’s and Simply Good.
Just a reminder – these visitors or fans are considered tourists and tourism is sustainable economic development.
In my last article, we took a look at July’s sales tax numbers. In this article, I am going to break down our sales tax revenue for August and September.
According to the Department of Revenue, sales tax revenue for the month of August across the board was down. Let’s break it down by municipalities as well as the county for LOST – Alapaha – $3,643.34 (down $156.39 from July); Enigma – $3,644.34 (down $156.79 from July); Nashville – $21,528.39 (down $924.75 from July); Ray City – $4,304.56 (down $584.35 from July) and Berrien County – $73,670.78 (down $3,142.69 from July). SPLOST – Berrien County Commissioners – $106,791.77 (down $4,565.03 from July). ELOST – Berrien County Board of Education – $108,423.28 (down $4,343.21 from July).
Sale tax revenue for the month of September were back up from the August numbers shown by the Department of Revenue. For LOST revenues by municipalities and the county were: Alapaha – $3,903.63 (up $260.29 from August); Enigma – $3,904.29 (up $259.95 from August); Nashville – $23,064.99 (up $1,536.60 from August); Ray City – $4,612.56 (up $308.00 from August) and Berrien County – $78,952.47 (up $5,281.69 from August). SPLOST – Berrien County – $114,438.55 (up $7,646.78 from August). ELOST – $116,095.40 (up $7,672.12 from August).