McDowell County reports record number of retail sales for 2021-2022 | Local News


MIKE CONLEY

From 2021 to 2022, McDowell County reported more than half a billion dollars in retail sales, which is a record amount.

For the 2021-22 fiscal year, retail sales in McDowell were a record total of $541,068,168, which is an increase of more than $41.6 million, or 8.33%, over fiscal year 2020-21. In comparison, taxable retail sales in North Carolina were up by 14.22% during the same year of 2021-22. McDowell County’s retail sales have grown faster than the state as a whole for 10 of the past 16 years, according to information from the city of Marion.

Taxable retail sales in McDowell County for June, which represents sales that happened in May, were $46,432,452, a 3.24% increase over the same time period in 2020-21.

This continued growth can be attributed to the continued efforts of the Mcwell Chamber of Commerce and other agencies that work to promote the Shop Local campaign, which encourages Marion and McDowell County residents to support local business.

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The city of Marion, McDowell County, the McDowell Chamber of Commerce, McDowell Economic Development Association, McDowell Tourism Development Authority and the Marion Business Association all encourage the public to shop McDowell first and give local businesses a chance, according to a news release.

Kim Effler, president and CEO of the McDowell Chamber of Commerce, said the increase in retail sales is one of the few positives from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The onset of the pandemic is a time I’d like to erase from my memory, but there are several positive outcomes to consider,” Effler told The McDowell News. “The pandemic heightened consumer awareness in McDowell County about the importance of shopping locally and keeping dollars in the community. The ‘shop local/support local’ mindset is relevant today, and may be stronger than ever before.”

Additionally, the pandemic provided more convenient ways to make purchases online, she added.

“Many businesses quickly pivoted by forming e-commerce models and developed curbside pickup. Businesses that were willing to think outside the box and adapt to the trying times have undoubtedly been successful. Lastly, and I’ll state the obvious here, rising inflation and gasoline prices are reflected in the increased retail sales data.”

In a similar matter, the Marion Business Association is reporting a successful 2021-22 year.

During that year, 15 new businesses opened in Marion and of those, nine were in the downtown. This results in the creation of 17 new full-time jobs and 12 new part-time jobs. A total of nine ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held in that year. One business (Marion Hot Wheelz) has expanded, according to information from the MBA.

During that same year, 11 businesses closed in Marion. This resulted in the loss of 16 full-time jobs and five part-time jobs.

From 2021 to 2022, 11 businesses in Marion either relocated or got a new owner.

The MBA received four business opportunity inquiries, two Small Business Administration loan inquiries and three business grant inquiries. The MBA received 12 property referral inquiries and heard from four property owners who have available buildings or land. There were six contacts with interested commercial developers. A total of 36 commercial properties were sold in that year. The MBA received one inquiry or application for a building reuse grant.

During the year of 2021 through 2022, McDowell County government completed renovation on the former Kirksey Funeral Home building for new county administration and finance offices. Mission McDowell Hospital announced a 15- to 20-bed expansion with a new tower. The old Marianna Hotel building is in demolition mode for future apartment housing (16 units) and commercial space. Economic activity continues on Sugar Hill Road with a new Backyard Burger and Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken under construction, according to information from the MBA.

As for housing, Marion saw six new patio homes on East Glenview Street and nine new townhouse units on Marion Street. There are 12 condos on George Avenue and 10 homes on Carolina Avenue with two new units and possibly more on the second floor of the Pack and Post Building on North Main Street. In the future, 165 new housing units are planned for College Drive for workforce housing and a six-home subdivision is planned on Miller Avenue.

During the year of 2021 to 2022, downtown Marion held successful events like the Fourth of July celebration, the August and May sidewalk yard sales. The craft strolls are well attended in August, November and February. For summer 2022, there were Third Friday Craft Strolls. Both the Marion Christmas parade and Christmas fest were very successful. The WNC Bigfoot Festival held in May was also a success. The Liver Mush Festival on Saturday, June 4, had very good attendance.

The Historic Marion Tailgate Market had a very good 2021 season and is now open every Tuesday from 3-6 pm

As for the COVID-19 situation, mask mandates were in effect from July 2021 to February 2022.

By February 2022, most businesses resumed normal hours and a mask mandate was no longer required.

During the 2021-22 year, there was a private investment of $2,866,997 in the downtown and a public investment of $2,483,322 in the downtown, making a total of $5,350,319, according to the MBA.

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