TEXARKANA -- As Texarkana prepares to close the book on 2021, local business leaders look back on the year that was and conclude things are going well and getting better. The past year puts the capper on a time of challenges, but the outlook, according to those in the know, is one to be proud of.
According to Texas-side officials, the numbers tell all.
"Our sales taxes on the Texas side are very strong," said Texarkana mayor, Bob Bruggeman. "Looking back to the month of August, our numbers were up 12 percent compared to a year ago. Sales tax numbers as a barometer of how the local economy is doing is looking good."
Bruggeman is also positive about how the town faced the challenges of the pandemic. "We faced it pretty well and saw business continue to increase," he said. "Looking at sales tax revenue, again, economically speaking. Hopefully, things will continue to be strong through the holidays."
Ina McDowell, executive director of Main Street Texarkana, acknowledges the difficulties Texarkana face the last several months but says the community coming together was key to getting through the challenges.
"'21 was a difficult year," she said. "But we all pulled together and fared better as a community, better than some. Honestly, just all of us pulling together and working together made all the difference. The year coming up looks to be a brighter one. Sales I see making a big comeback because it is clear the people are ready."
McDowell added that as both travel increases and downtown and other parts of Texarkana continue their forward progress, the Twin Cities will increasingly return to being a destination location.
"I do think tourism is going to go up," she said. "Texarkana will increasingly be a place to be as the year ahead and years ahead progress. We are ready for them to come, with the improvements we have made. I think the progress has made more of us realize just what we have here in our town."
Small Business Saturday is coming up the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, a day where local businesses are recognized and frequented for what they offer, both in local business health and community bonding.
"We are excited to participate in our Shop Local Campaign," said McDowell. "We receive items to distribute via American Express for our local businesses to distribute. This is the time of year to remind people to shop in our local businesses on that Saturday after Thanksgiving. I will be distributing them to our various local businesses including those downtown. This will go from November 22 to December 4."
Bruggeman issued an official Texarkana, Texas, proclamation at the last City Council meeting.
"As a follow-up to that, I encourage our residents to shop local first, to help our small business owners, our citizens," he said.
Malone reminded readers that the local business and those who own and run them are us. "Community-wise, shopping local creates an immediate economic influx," he said. "You go to church with local business owners. Kids go to school with their kids. This is your community. Do not forget about the shop on the block, they are our neighbors, our friends. We need to support them. We encourage you all to visit local businesses and give them good community support. It is good for business."