CRAWFORD COUNTY (KFSM) -- A new University of Arkansas study found alcohol sales would have brought an estimated $5.8 million economic impact to Crawford County last year -- if it were a "wet" county.
Researchers from the university used data from 2014-2015 to come up with the amount and estimated Crawford County residents would spend an average of $194 per person on beer and $162 per person on liquor and wine.
According to the study, in 2015, there would have been $15.5 million combined beer, liquor and wine sales in Crawford County, which would have generated an addition 2.4 percent in sales tax revenue bringing in $558,496 in county and city sales tax dollars.
Additionally, the study estimated that lifting the alcohol ban would create an additional 76 local jobs with a labor income of $2.3 million.
Kevin Holmes is the spokesperson for the group Keep Dollars in Crawford County, which is trying to get the issue on the next ballot, something that hasn't happened in more than 70 years.
“Crawford County has been so behind for so long, and this is just kind of one of the last hurdles that we think is holding back local city and county governments, chamber of commerce from getting some big business here,” Holmes said
Big businesses like liquor stores that, according to the study, could generate nearly $6 million dollars every year, which Holmes said would help make improvements.
“It allows the counties to, you know, get revenue to improve the roads, improve the rural fire, improve the police department,” Holmes said.
Crawford County Judge John Hall said an official economic study has never been done before.
“I've seen people come up with estimates because they just guess it makes some kind of number, but as far as an actual study, I’ve never seen that,” Hall said.
Judge Hall said at this point he's not sure which side this study will benefit.
“I’m sure the dry side will say it's not worth it,” Hall said. “If it's a real high number, I’m sure the wet side will say look what we can do with the tax money.”
But, Holmes said the study shows that the county is missing out.
“Look at what we're missing out on by not having the Crawford County wet and, look at the dollars we're losing,” Holmes said.
The Keep Dollars In Crawford County group, which is for making the county wet, contacted the University of Arkansas Business and Economic Research department to conduct the study.
The group Stay Dry, Stay Safe, which is against making Crawford County wet, has spent $84,000 on advertising, signs and consulting, according to their April 12 financial report filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
Keep Dollars In Crawford County needs to gather 12,000 signatures by July in order to put the issue before voters in the November general election.