Lots of small towns struggle with retail, both retaining existing stores and encouraging new stores to open.
In Elk City, Oklahoma, the municipal government actively encourages retail experiments by rebating some sales tax to new retail businesses.
Economic Development Director Jim Mason told me about it at a regional meeting, and I thought it was smart enough to pass along to you.
New retail businesses get a rebate of part of the municipal sales tax they collect and submit. Wisely, the incentive steps down gradually. The rebate is 50% the first year, 40% the second year, and 30% the third year.
It’s a win-win. The new business gets some revenue back, and the city gets more sales tax because of the new business.
Think that’s unfair to existing businesses? They can get in on it with a qualifying expansion of their business, Mason told me.
Read more about Elk City’s efforts to diversify and avoid depending on a single industry, lessons any community could copy.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.