Economist Ray Perryman, of the Perryman Group, shared his findings with more than 60 businessmen and women Wednesday. The Perryman Group has conducted hundreds of impact analyses for local areas, regions and states. It has conducted “wet/dry” analyses in other cities, including Lubbock, Weatherford, Irving and Dallas. The projected numbers are almost double his early estimates for Tyler and Precinct 2 and equal around 5 percent growth in gross area product.
Perryman said the reason the numbers were higher is because Tyler is distinctly different than other typical communities of its size because it is “a retail Mecca” in the area.
“People come to Tyler to shop,” he said. “Five percent growth is a big number.”
Perryman projects passage of beer and wine proposals in the city of Tyler and Justice of the Peace Precinct 2, which will be on November ballots, would generate $107.4 million in additional business activity, mostly in the retail sector.
Sales also would create 1,653 jobs based on his projections and $4.9 million in local tax revenue. Between 75 percent and 80 percent of the tax revenue would be sales taxes, he said.
The impact assessment showed alcohol's multiplier effect across 13 local economy sectors, including agriculture ($1.5 million), transportation and utilities ($2.9 million), retail ($66.7 million), finance, insurance and real estate ($7.2 million) and health services ($4.3 million).
Mike Daniels, pastor at Landmark Baptist Church and spokesman for the opposition political action committee Stand Strong for Tyler, said no matter what the numbers indicate, increased access to alcohol will be detrimental to the community.
“The numbers are a crock of bull,” Daniels said. “They're all in bed together. The Chamber (of Commerce) is pushing it. Brookshire's is pushing it. These people are more interested in selling alcohol and tax dollars than the community's best interest.”
But Perryman said added sales equal additional employees, which creates additional payroll which is dispersed locally throughout the economy, he said. The same principle extends to real estate, construction and the property tax pool for local governments, he said.
“The numbers looked too good to be true, but here we are 17 years later, and they were right on,” Mullins said. “His model showed the jobs created by the center would change the growth trajectory of that area, and they did.”
Four proposals, two to legalize the sale of beer and wine within the city limits and Precinct 2, which includes unincorporated areas surrounding southern Tyler, Flint, Noonday and Bullard, and two to expand mixed beverage sales in those jurisdictions, will go before their respective voters in November.
The study cost the chamber around $8,000, plus travel expenses, Mullins said.
Bob Westbrook a local restaurateur, the chairman of the chamber's Government Affairs Committee, which contracted Perryman's study, said the projections show better-than-expected across-the-board positive growth for the local private and public sectors.
“I am excited for Tyler,” he said.
The numbers will make it difficult for opposition groups to dispute the positive economic benefits of going wet, Westbrook said.
The Rev. Daniels asked who would be responsible if the projected numbers did not become reality. He said he didn't want to trade possible economic gains for Tyler's wholesome uniqueness.
“They will use this study to propagate the result they want,” he said. “Where are all the jobs for Gladewater and Troup, all those promises of economic prosperity? Alcohol does good for no one.”
Westbrook said legalization will keep local dollars circulating within the local economy.
Most business men and women who attended the presentation were not eager to endorse a vote for or against legalizing alcohol, but the consensus among those asked was that the economic projections are hard to ignore.
Perryman said the study showed alcohol sales would expand Tyler's opportunity for economic growth and bring businesses to the town. He said expenses to the local economy based on “social ills,” such as DWIs and other alcohol-related problems, did not factor much into his calculation because alcohol is readily available.
“”I'm not here to give an opinion or tell you how to vote,” Perryman said. “I was asked what the economic impact of alcohol would be on Tyler, and those are the numbers.”