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Group kicks off Shop Local initiative
4 Shop Local pic
Last year, shoppers stormed the doors of Coach Outlet when North Georgia Premium Outlets opened for the Midnight Madness After Thanksgiving Sale. The outlets will open again at midnight Thursday. - photo by File photo

A local group hopes a new initiative will encourage the community to shop in Dawson County this holiday season.


The Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with many businesses and the local government, has embarked on a countywide “Shop Local” program.


The effort aims to keep tax dollars in Dawson County by highlighting local retail businesses.


A component of the Entrepreneur Friendly designation the county received earlier this year from Gov. Sonny Perdue, the initiative challenges residents to see what Dawson County has to offer for holiday shopping.


“Shoppers may be surprised by what is available within the county for gift giving, as well as everyday items,” said Linda Williams, president of the chamber.


A renowned shopping destination, the county has a strong base of local merchants, complemented by national retailers.


“The combination of local and chain outlets contributes valuable diversity to the local economy,” said Lynn Tully, a member of the entrepreneur friendly committee.


Dawson County Commissioner Terri Tragesser said she was surprised last year as she shopped for the holidays.


In one instance, she discovered an item she had bought a department store was also available for much less at North Georgia Premium Outlets.


“It taught me a very valuable lesson when shopping,” Tragesser said. “I found the same item for half of what I had paid in another county for it. Start local, you’ll probably find it right here.”


The outlets open at midnight Thanksgiving night, giving gift-seekers a jump-start on their holiday bargain shopping.


In addition to an economic boost, patronizing local businesses allows Dawson County to retain its unique blend of rural and urban living and is a critical element of the tax formula, Tragesser said.


For each dollar in retail items sold in Dawson, 3 cents goes toward local sales tax programs, reducing the property tax burden.


Typically, for each $100 spent locally $13-45 remains in the county’s economy.


With tax revenues down statewide, Tragesser said every opportunity to attract new shoppers to the area allows the county to continue with capital projects and services in 2009.


“We are so fortunate to have the unique shopping mix that we do out at Ga. 400 and that certainly does bring tax dollars to us that most counties would love to have,” she said.


“Through this holiday season, when you see folks that are driving in from the other parts of the state, go ahead and wave them on through traffic. And in being a good ambassador you are part of what makes our current revenues work for all of us.”


Added Williams: “It keeps tax dollars within the county, where they belong.” 


E-mail Michele Hester at