Lincoln residents have plenty of nearby options for shopping, such as the Westfield Galleria at Roseville, Fountains at Roseville outdoor mall, Target in Rocklin and, with a longer drive, numerous retail outlets in Sacramento. But when residents shop in these neighboring communities, local merchants and the City of Lincoln lose out on those dollars.
“We’ve always received lower sales tax per capita than we should,” says Shawn Tillman, Lincoln’s economic development manager. “We probably receive about half the sales tax per capita that we should just because of our proximity to the Roseville Galleria.”
Between 2000 and 2010, Lincoln quadrupled in size from roughly 10,000 residents to 40,000, mirroring much of the explosive growth throughout south Placer County. But revitalizing the city’s downtown and growing its economic base has been an ongoing work in progress, which Comstock’s wrote about in April 2019 (“A City’s Growth Spurt”).
So Tillman and other local leaders kicked off Love Lincoln on Nov. 4 at the Twelve Bridges Village shopping center to encourage residents to shop in their city. The campaign includes three components: educating people on why it’s important to shop locally; providing resources for businesses to promote the program; and holding special events for businesses to rally around.
“We wanted people to understand that if they didn’t shop in Lincoln, then none of those dollars stayed in Lincoln,” Tillman says. “Studies (by Civic Economics) have shown that 43 cents of every dollar spent at a local business stays in that local community. And if you shop at an independent business, studies show that 68 cents of that dollar stays in the local community.”
Lincoln’s largest sales tax drivers are fuel and service stations, restaurants and hotels, and general consumer goods, according to Tillman. “All of those things you can buy in any place,” he says. “We’re saying, ‘Hey, buy it in Lincoln so your community benefits from that transaction, and the economy sees benefit from your purchase there.’”
For Lincoln, keeping more dollars in the community is critical. Tillman estimates Lincoln’s annual sales tax revenue at $3.8 million to $4 million — about half of the state average per capita, he says. The revenue helps to fund city services, including the police and fire departments, libraries, and parks and recreation. There are lags in public safety service levels; Tillman says Lincoln City Council set police staffing levels at 0.85 officers per 1,000 residents, equivalent to roughly 34 officers for a population of 40,000. Tillman estimates there are 20 or 21 sworn officers in Lincoln.
“It is of concern to the council and the city manager that our public safety levels are where they are,” Tillman says. “But we are committed to and are making progress in increasing them over time.”
Residents need encouragement — and reasons — to shop local, says Tom Indrieri, who became executive director of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce in July 2019 and helped create the direction of the Love Lincoln campaign, which had a soft launch in September. “We need more police, more fire, like a lot of communities do,” Indrieri says. “The tax dollars can go directly to that to hopefully add another police officer or two or another firefighter.”
Gauging the success of the campaign could be a challenge. “I don’t know that we would be able to directly measure the sales tax receipts that come from a program like this,” Tillman says. “We’ll see. We’ll just have to compare this period of time next year to this period of time this year to see if there’s a change. But we’re not really expecting to necessarily see a huge uptick in sales receipts.”
There have been some early signs of encouragement, such as solid engagement online that the city is tracking, with a #LoveLincolnCA hashtag. Indrieri says he’s also getting calls from other groups associated with the chamber, which has 350 members.
Indrieri says several chamber members have expressed interest in being part of the campaign and that he’s also looking to involve the local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs. “As long as we can make a citywide effort,” he says, “it’s going to be a success.”
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Economic Development Manager for the City of Lincoln Shawn Tillman discusses growth, industry and foreign trade.