New East Albany Walmart brings more than new shopping - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New East Albany Walmart brings more than new shopping

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The new East Albany Walmart will open first thing Wednesday morning.

The store created 300 jobs and handed out $7,000 in grants to the community. Those aren't the only benefits.

One of the biggest benefits is the sales tax dollars this new store will bring to Albany and Dougherty County. This store has been a long time in coming and it's been all the buzz among the East Albany business community.

For the East Albany Merchants and Professional Association the opening of the East Albany Walmart has been 25 years in the making.

"We really needed an association to see if we couldn't bring some really big things and do some really great things in East Albany and you know, I'm sorry and sad that they're not here to see this because we worked so hard on it for so many years," said Ellen Bryant, Former East Albany Merchants & Professionals Association Member.

People like Scott McCollum, Tom Bryant, Bill and Sarah Miller. The association broke up in 1996, but tomorrow's store opening was one of their dreams.

"One of the best things in a long time, you know we've lost so much over here, we lost Merck, we lost Firestone, we lost Cooper Tire, but tomorrow we win," said Bryant.

It's a win for all of Albany. The new store is expected just in the first year to generate hundreds of thousands for the Tax Allocation District that includes downtown, and that amount will continue to grow annually.

"Any incremental increase in property values and thus increases in taxes in a defined geographic zone over a 20 year period total, I think the school boards in for 10 years, but any increased revenues from the time of the start of the TAD will be invested within that district," said Wes Smith, Albany Assistant City Manager.

The city has tried to estimate what kind of sales tax revenue the store will also bring, the best they can estimate is it could generate as much as $200,000 for the remainder of this year.

"With the economy being the way it has we're certainly are welcoming them coming and the new taxes that can come," said Smith.

And it's brought good paying jobs. The average wage at Walmart in Georgia for a full time hourly associate is 13 dollars an hour.

Mayor Willie Adams has called the store an economic engine for the city and county.

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