By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Findings from a study on the economic impact of ending the Sunday Blue Law – banning alcohol sales on Sunday – came in last week.
In short, there is an economic impact, and it’s significant: an estimated $12.6 million total net expenditure impact.
The results of the study seem to have had an impact on the possibility of a vote on seven-day alcohol sales the City of Gadsden.
Heather New, president of The Chamber, Gadsden-Etowah County, said she’s communicated with representatives who voiced opposition to a local bill that would let the people of Gadsden vote on the issue.
“I’m extremely encouraged to have communicated directly with Rep. Becky Nordgren and Rep. Mack Butler and have learned they intend to sign the bill calling for a referendum on seven-day-per-week sales of alcohol,” New said in a statement.
House Minority Leader Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, introduced local legislation calling for a referendum in Gadsden on the issue.
Typically, local legislation needs the support of all members of the local delegation to pass.
Butler and Nordgren initially said they opposed such a bill, as did Sen. Phil Williams. Williams told The Chamber he wanted an economic impact study before any action on a bill.
As a result the study, was performed by the Jacksonville State University College of Commerce and Business Administration’s Center for Economic Development.
“I understand that the economic impact study completed pro gratis by Jacksonville State University provided much-needed independent verification of the significant and overwhelmingly positive impact this change could create in our local economy in terms of jobs and net revenue,” New said.
“I appreciate them, along with Sen. Phil Williams, holding fast to their own convictions but also processing the data and allowing a referendum for the registered voters of Gadsden to decide. I also appreciate Rep. Craig Ford for sponsoring this bill, which I believe is critical for evolving to a modern economy.
“The Statistical Analysis section (of the JSU study) indicates that the total net expenditure impact from Sunday sales of alcohol in Gadsden is approximately $12.6 million, New said. “It is also expected to generate approximately 420 jobs at a base wage rate of $21,690. That calculates to approximately $10.42 per hour based on a 40 hour work week – well above minimum wage.”
The study’s conclusion states “The rise in sales of alcohol when Sunday bans are eliminated strongly suggests that consumers are inconvenienced by Blue Laws” as well as “there will be an increase in employment within the city and a substantial increase in local income.”
“We are committed to co-hosting a forum on the issue of seven-day sales once it is clear that Gadsden will have the right to vote on the issue,” New said. “A forum would be misleading to the general public if any single member of the delegation is resolved to prohibit the vote.”
“We are aware that there may be residents within Gadsden that would oppose the sale of alcohol on Sunday and fully respect and appreciate their position,” New continued. “We are champions of their right to vote against this measure, as well.”