A Publication of WTVP

Shopping Tazewell

Despite its inherent challenges, our retail environment remains strong.

by David Zimmerman, Tazewell County Board |
Levee District

One of the keys to running a successful local government is having a reliable, consistent source of revenue. Second to having solid and ethical elected officials, a predictable revenue stream enables a board to budget most effectively and helps identify areas where we can be the most effective. While Tazewell County has more than 100 sources of revenue (from property taxes to vending machine revenue), the sales tax we bring in each year is our largest and most important source. It is an indicator of how well our local businesses, retail markets and overall economy are doing.

One sign of a healthy local business climate are the downtowns in our communities. Many towns and cities struggle to maintain businesses and attract customers as they compete with a variety of forces. Online shopping, declining population and other factors make it challenging to run a successful business. We face many of those challenges in Tazewell County, but our retail environment remains strong.

Locally owned grocery stores allow our residents to shop where they live and have easy access to fresh foods. Whether Beecham’s Market in Tremont, the IGA in Mackinaw or Lindy’s Downtown Market in Washington, they provide the convenience and variety consumers are looking for—and with friendly faces behind the counter. Even having a Dollar General in communities like Hopedale and Delavan allow customers to buy a gallon of milk or other necessities without having to drive 20 minutes each way.

In East Peoria, the Levee District is a retail hub that generates significant sales tax dollars and offers a wide variety of shopping experiences for the consumer. Businesses like Bass Pro and Costco attract many shoppers from outside our region who spend their dollars here—creating local jobs and local tax revenue.

As Morton, Washington and Pekin continue to invest in their downtown retail space, they are bringing back shoppers who left 30 years ago for outlying malls and the big-box stores. The return of small retail attracts other businesses and restaurants, which in turn makes these spaces more attractive to new investment.

Our local chambers of commerce have been promoting a “Shop Local” campaign for some time now, encouraging residents to spend their dollars with local businesses whenever possible. This helps to keep retail in their communities strong and thriving, paying for everything from public safety to clean water that local governments are mandated to provide.

The next time you have an option to shop online, travel to another region for a particular product, or go to your local proprietor, please consider spending your dollars locally. This simple decision can have an enormous impact on your community and where people choose to live. Plus, what these local businesses have to offer is often the greatest deal around. PM