New Sales Tax Study Completed | Local News

A new study estimates that 37% to 43% of sales tax generated in the Golden Isles comes from people living in other communities.

The study results were announced by Ralph Staffins, president and CEO of the Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, at Wednesday’s board meeting.

Information from the study, conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia, will be used as part of a promotional campaign to persuade voters to approve a referendum for a new sales tax on local options for special use in the general elections in November.

“There’s a lot of money left on the table because SPLOST didn’t pass,” said Chamber Speaker Mike Scherneck.

Staffins said an online survey of community wants and needs is getting a strong response. The results will help stakeholders determine which projects are most likely to garner strong public support in the SPLOST referendum vote.

“We want opinions from everywhere,” Staffins said, urging chamber members to ask their employees to participate in the online survey to get a wide variety of participants.

Lonnie Roberts, president of Coastal Pines Technical College, said $2.9 million in funding for the planning and design of a new lab building on the Brunswick campus remains in the state budget pending the Governor’s signature.

“Right now it’s in the governor’s hands,” Roberts said. “There’s not much else to do until the budget is enacted.”

While there’s no guarantee the governor won’t cut some budget items, including funding for the building’s design, Staffins said he remains “cautiously optimistic” it will be approved.

“We are still working hard on it,” he said.

Tourism in the Golden Isles continues to set new records, said Scott McQuade, president and CEO of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau. Occupancy for February is 30% higher than the same month a year ago and bed tax collection is 55% higher than last year’s record.

McQuade said the Golden Isles is on track to generate $500 million in lodging revenue this year.

The College of Coastal Georgia will open the Art and Lindee Lucas Center for Entrepreneurship to help students become business owners. Ande Noktes, executive director of the center, said the program will help teach students the skills and knowledge needed to become an entrepreneur. Students can still major in whatever degree they choose, but they will have the opportunity to learn the business side of their chosen profession, Noktes said. Grants will also be available.

The college is also looking for business leaders willing to be mentors for students.

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