Around 2007, City of Sumter officials were struggling to find new or alternative funding sources to attract new businesses and industry to the area.
Joining an effort initiated by the local chamber of commerce, city and county officials agreed to collectively encourage the community to invest in itself by passing a county-wide penny capital projects sales tax. The stakeholders, with input from the community, created a list of 16 capital projects that the new sales tax would fund, primarily infrastructure and asset improvements, such as recreation, public safety, utilities and education. Then, city, county and chamber officials worked together to show residents the potential return on investment. Voters agreed to add the new tax in 2008.
The $75 million generated by the penny tax over a seven-year period has transformed the community.
Today, the Patriot Park Athletic Complex hosts large tournaments drawing visitors from all over the southeast, with a $10 million impact on the local economy. Penny tax investments upgraded utilities, rehabilitated downtown retail facilities and provided safer intersection crossings in downtown Sumter. This investment resulted in upper story housing, additional retail shops and a new hotel.
Proceeds from the capital projects sales tax also went to other projects to support economic growth, such as water and wastewater expansions, industrial park infrastructure and road improvements. The community is reaping the benefits of the investment it made in itself, including landing one of the state’s largest economic development projects, Continental Tire.
While the initial 2008 penny sales tax passed by a very slim margin, voters renewed the tax in 2014 with 60 percent voting to continue the progress. The tax revenues will fund 28 additional improvement projects. Thanks to a strong plan and strong community support, the City of Sumter remains poised for growth.
Contact Shelley Kile at email@example.com or 803.774.1661.