Chamber pushes agenda in Atlanta

Submitted PhotoValdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Council members met in Atlanta with state legislators from Valdosta. Pictured are Brad Eyre, Gary Wisenbaker, Amanda Johnson, GAC Chairman John Page, state Sen. Ellis Black, Paul Hamilton, state Reps. John Corbett and Jason Shaw, and Valdosta Mall General Manager Tim Nolan.

VALDOSTA – Renewing the sales tax holiday, supporting a level playing field between brick-and-mortar retailers and online retailers, and ensuring adequate funding for ongoing transportation projects were at the top of the legislative list of priorities for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce during a recent Atlanta visit with legislators.

The Chamber Government Affairs Council met with State Sen. Ellis Black and State Reps. Jason Shaw and John Corbett on Jan. 31 to monitor progress on the chamber’s top priorities for the 2018 legislative session, according to chamber officials.

“We are fortunate to have pro-business legislators who work hard for our area,” Chamber GAC Chairman John Page said. “The meeting in Atlanta was a great opportunity to check in with our legislators on the issues that matter most to our chamber members.”

The sales tax holiday was discontinued in 2017, causing a major loss for Valdosta retailers. 

“Valdosta Mall retailers regard the sales tax holiday weekend as a second Christmas in terms of sales,” said Tim Nolan, Valdosta Mall general manager.

“Without the 2017 Georgia sales tax holiday,” Nolan said, “we estimate that the State of Georgia lost more than $200 million last year. Retailers lose sales, retail employees lose hours and wages, and consumers lose savings on back-to-school items.”

Georgia border counties, such as Lowndes, stand to lose the most because bordering states, such as Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina, have sales tax holidays that draw retail dollars out of Georgia.

Corbett and Shaw are leading the charge in the Georgia Legislature to get the back-to-school sales tax holiday renewed in 2018, on Aug. 4 and 5. 

“It’s an uphill battle in the Legislature, but we feel the sales tax holiday benefits families as well as businesses,” Corbett said.

“The chamber appreciates the efforts of our legislators on this and other important business issues,” said Paul Hamilton, who chairs the economic development & taxation policy committee for the chamber. “We have a pro-business delegation representing us in Atlanta.”

To follow the progress of this and other bills currently under consideration during the 2018 legislative session, visit the chamber website at and select “Advocacy/Take Action.”

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