By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
BRIGHTON ? City Clerk Chris Davies said the opening of a Dollar General store along Highway 78 is one of the biggest, most positive things that has happened to the city in the 35 years he has lived in Brighton.
After receiving word in September that Dollar General had decided to open a store in the city, Davies said that he has been surprised at the speed with which the store had been built. He said a few years ago city council member Chuck Emry had contacted Dollar General to see if there would be interest in a building being located in Brighton. The company had done research and accepted the offer. The building is being constructed by Cecil Mueller and Dollar General will lease it.
?Obviously taxes will benefit,? Davies said. ?We have a convenient store in town, but for anything else we need we have to run to Washington or Fairfield. A lot of people go to Washington for jobs, but we have a lot of people in town who are retired and, especially in the winter time, don?t like to get out too much. I?m sure this will be beneficial for them.?
Finishing touches are being done on the store and Davies said the store is slated to be opened later this month. Davies also commented that the city hadn?t had to offer any kind of economic incentive to convince Dollar General to locate in Brighton, although the city is now working with Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG) director Ed Raber to see if there can be additional economic benefit for the city. One possibility discussed is creating a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district.
Raber said In cities that have recently had Dollar General locate in town, such as Kalona and Lone Tree, he found an increase in retail sales.
?If you look at retail sales in the county over the last 10 or 12 years, there has been a lot of growth,? Raber said. ?A lot of the reasons for the increase, and there has been about a 56 percent increase in retail sales in the county, comes back to the people in Washington County shopping and spending their retail dollars in Washington County.?
He predicts with the location of the store at the corner of three counties, the Dollar General will draw sales from Washington, Jefferson, Keokuk and some of Henry counties.
Raber said he and Davies are continuing to talk about how Brighton can leverage the new store as a resource for other opportunities. He said that he did not know where the discussions would go yet.
?I think we are very excited in town about the Dollar General store,? Davies said. ?It has been several years since we had a grocery store in town. About 20 at least.?