Growth is happening in Greene County’s business community, and that’s good news for local residents and governments.

As Eugenia Estes reports in today’s edition, nearly every part of the county saw local-option sales tax receipts increase in the latter half of 2019 over the same span in 2018. Overall, tax collections rose $677,578 for the July-December frame to total more than $10.5 million, according to figures provided by Greene County Trustee Nathan Holt.

Those numbers are thanks in part to the opening of four national chain retail stores at Greeneville Commons Shopping Center as well as a number of local businesses and restaurants. And Greeneville, which took in $7.8 million in local-option sales tax receipts, wasn’t alone in reaping the rewards. Tusculum’s collections increased a whopping 79% in the period measured, and dollars collected in the county’s unincorporated areas rose 19%.

The figures reflect a local economy moving in the right direction, and that’s beneficial on multiple fronts. First, state law requires that 50% of local option sales tax receipts go to education — an area that is consistently underfunded even though schools are the most important institutions in securing the future of our communities and nation — while 50% returns to the locality where the sales occurred. The results, and especially the growing retail sector behind them, mean that local residents have more options for shopping and eating — and that means fewer of them will take their spending to places like Johnson City or Knoxville, contributing to those economies instead of our own.

That’s also important as the county attracts other businesses such as Vertical Flight Technologies, which is preparing to relocate from its current headquarters in Florida to the Greeneville Municipal Airport and could employ 30 people there by 2023. Those employees, and their families, will want places to shop and eat.

So we say to local developers and others in the business community, keep the growth coming, and keep those dollars in Greene County.

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