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UA Study Points To Economic Effects of 'Dry' Counties Turning 'Wet'

Map showing “wet” and “dry” counties in Arkansas as of 2014.

Proponents of allowing alcohol sales in Faulkner, Saline, and Craighead counties are touting a University of Arkansas study released Wednesday that concludes a change from “dry” to “wet” would be financially beneficial. UA Researcher Jeff Cooperstein said much of the increased revenue would not be new but derived from neighboring counties that are currently wet.

He also said an increase in alcohol consumption could drive new revenue.

“Most of it is probably shifting but if you can buy something closer you’re probably more likely to buy more of it,” said Cooperstein.

Proponents of turning the three "dry" counties "wet" argue keeping the money in their home counties is a benefit. Cooperstein said there would be some additional revenue through city and county taxes as well a small uptick in employment.

“It looks like we’re talking about less than 2 percent in additional sales tax revenues. So, not the biggest effect but something that’s statistically significant,” said Cooperstein.

The study expects the three counties would experience over $10 million dollar in additional economic activity.

A petition effort is underway to put a measure allowing statewide alcohol sales on the November ballot. Supporters have until July 7th to collect over 78,000 signatures.

Our Community, Our Dollars represents a collection of retailers, including Walmart, pushing for alcohol sales. The group commissioned the UA Sam M.  Walton College of Business study.

Jacob Kauffman is a former news anchor and reporter for KUAR.
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