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Liquor sales issue in Arkansas could impact business in SW MO - KOAM TV 7

Liquor sales issue in Arkansas could impact business in Southwest Missouri

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A ballot issue allowing Benton County, Arkansas to begin selling alcohol could mean less business for McDonald County, Missouri businesses.

Currently only those licensed as private clubs can sell liquor by the drink or mixed drinks in Benton County.  So many Benton County residents cross the border to buy their alcohol but that could soon change when Benton County voters hit the polls November 6 to vote on a dry or wet county for the first time since 1944.

"We've got a lot of city officials who are looking at lost revenue and what are we going to do to make it up - well, if liquor sales in our particular county will do it, why not go for it?" says Bob Bright, a Benton County resident who buys alcohol in McDonald County.  "It's pretty silly to make your local people drive across state line just to buy a six pack of beer."

But what would be convenient for Bright and other Benton County residents might be unfortunate for the Missouri liquor stores close to the Benton County border.

The debate has sparked a concern that the change could effect Southwest Missouri businesses.

Arkansas law states that one liquor store is allowed for every 4,000 residents.  With 222,000 residents in Benton County, as many as 55 liquor stores could call the county home if passed.

"Bella Vista is just across the line and it may be closer for them just to still come here, but will the people who are particularly living farther into Arkansas, if they find a closer place, it only seems reasonable that they will stop there," says Pineville Mayor Pat Beshears.

The McDonald County commissioners office says it's too soon to say whether or not the change in Benton County could affect businesses in Southwest Missouri.  They say until November 6 everything is speculative.

"We do get a lot of revenue off of liquor sales but there is no way to tell if people will stay there or go to a different location," says McDonald County Clerk Barbara Williams.  "Our tax base is still cheaper than Benton County so that may make a difference."

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