214 E. Market Street, P.O Box 653, Bennettsville, SC 29512.
Phone: (843) 479-5626 | Email: JRMUNNERLYN


Monthly Archives: July 2016

Officials break ground for Eastside Center for Advanced Manufacturing

Despite gloomy, wet conditions, officials hailed Tuesday as a historic day in Marlboro County, breaking ground on the Eastside Center for Advanced Manufacturing.  The facility, which will be located in parts of the old Eastside High School building, will be used to help educate current workers in the county’s industries and prepare students for modern manufacturing jobs.

ECAM is a joint project of Northeastern Technical College, the Marlboro County Economic Development Partnership and the Marlboro County School District.

“We have been at this for quite awhile,” said Dr. Ron Bartley, president of NETC, in tracing the roots of the ECAM.  “It started about four years ago with a trip to Tennessee.”

A group from Marlboro County traveled by bus to see the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Kingsport, Tennessee.  That facility was the result of a joint project by manufacturing leaders, local and state government and the local community college.

The Marlboro County group determined to bring a similar facility to life in Bennettsville to be a service to existing businesses, a magnet for new ones and to help the people of Marlboro County prepare for a career in manufacturing.

The training curriculum will focus on process manufacturing, such as in the paper and pulp or food industries, instead of piece-part manufacturing.

Bartley said the new timeline for the project has the bidding process to take place in June with the first phase of the project being completed between October 1 and November 1.  Initially, it had been hoped that the training facility would be ready for the start of the fall semester in August.  However, state funding for the project was held up in the approval process until recently.

Bartley praised the county’s legislative delegation for their assistance in securing the necessary funding for the project.

“This facility will create opportunity for economic growth, individual growth and workforce growth,” said Dr. Helena Tillar, Superintendent of the Marlboro County School District.  “It will give those in the workforce a chance to retool and gain skills that can position them for advancement.”

She related that recent surveys of local industries showed that few of the more demanding technical jobs were held by local citizens.  Through ECAM, more Marlboro County residents will make themselves ready for those higher paying positions.
Ron King, executive director of the Marlboro County Economic Development Partnership, said that he was reminded of something he heard in a recent visit to Kitty Hawk, NC and the site of the Wright brother’s first flight.

“While it proved man could fly, it was also the death of the impossible,” he said.
King said that he hopes this project can be a springboard to bigger and better things for Marlboro County.  He closed the comments by listing all of the local industries and businesses that have contributed to the project.

The new logo and signage for ECAM was unveiled and those in attendance got to view one of the future classrooms set up with samples of training equipment.

Marlboro County Launches New Economic Development Website

Bennettsville, SC – The Marlboro County Economic Development Board has launched a new website to promote the County to new business and industry.  MyWebsiteGuys of Rock Hill, SC created the new website which is online at:  The project was approved by the Marlboro County Development Board earlier this year.

The new website provides detailed information about the County’s sites and buildings, education, workforce, training, tax and business information, demographics, maps, resources on doing business in the County and other data to help market Marlboro County to the world.    The site can also be utilized by staff and the community to help promote growth and expansion of existing industry.

“The new website includes databases for all of the County’s sites and buildings, includes mapping features to help orient users to the area, and provides detailed information to help Marlboro County attract new business and industry,” said MyWebsiteGuys owner Keith Tunnell.

“We’ve also built the site so that all of the information is compatible with all smartphones, mobile devices and tablets,” Tunnell added.  “Ron King and Brandinika Ritter of the Marlboro County Development Board staff were instrumental in the success of this project.   I think the new website will improve the County’s ability to market itself to new business and industry.”

MyWebsiteGuys is a full-service internet design and marketing company located in Rock Hill, SC.   The company has been in business for 17 years and has developed several highly successful and award-winning economic development websites throughout the U.S.

For more information about the new economic development website, contact the Marlboro County Economic Development Board by email or by calling (843) 479-5626.

EB-5 Immigration Reform Landscape in 2016

By Randall L. Sidlosca

Congress in 2015 tried to tackle new EB-5 reform legislation, but instead chose to extend the program without any changes until September 30, 2016. This was a result of an impasse on issues relating to increase in the capital threshold amount and the change in the metrics used to determine what is a (“TEA”) targeted employment area. The contentious debate on these issues provided both developers and regional centers one more year of status quo in the program.

What will happen this year is anyone’s guess. What we do know is that Congress is holding hearings on EB-5 reform. These hearings provide the opportunity for individuals in the EB-5 industry to voice their opinion as to the future of the program.

On Wednesday April 13th 2016, the Senate Judiciary Committee held its second hearing of 2016 on the EB-5 Program titled, The Distortion of EB-5 Targeted Employment Areas: Time to End the Abuse. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard from several witnesses including the Executive Director of IIUSA, Peter Joseph. IIUSA is the national non-profit trade association representing EB-5 developers, regional centers and other professionals that are in the EB-5 space. Peter Joseph in his testimony pointed to several critical issues that the Committee should consider in the long term reauthorization of the EB-5 legislation. Those issues include:

  • Increase visa capacity to enhance economic impact of EB-5 and address the backlog of
    investors currently waiting for visas to be available.
  • Staff commercially viable processing system at USCIS that addresses existing backlogs
    and prioritizes predictability and length of processing times for EB-5 related petitions and
  • Avoid retroactive application of new law and reform to protect the existing EB-5
    investors and their families and the billions of dollars in financial commitments and
    contractual obligations.
  • Ensure all EB-5 investors with petitions currently filed, or at a later stage in the EB-5
    process, are guaranteed adjudication (not approval) and eligibility for immigration
    benefits throughout the entire EB-5 process (I-526 petition, EB-5 visa issuance, and I-829 petition)
    regardless of future reforms, lapses, or expiration of the program.
  • Continue to allow economic impact models including indirect/induced job creation to
    count for EB-5 purposes (using the same econometric models that are generally accepted
    as economic policymaking tools by government, academia, and business).
  • Improve program integrity, including through enhanced oversight and reporting
    requirements of Regional Centers that are not unduly burdensome, such as site visits
    funded by user fees.
  • Clarify geographic (including targeted employment areas (TEAs)), structural, and
    industry project characteristics that enable consistent adjudication of EB-5 petitions and
  • The issues that Peter Joseph mentioned in his testimony on Capitol Hill clearly mirror the position that most in the EB-5 industry have taken on EB-5 reform. The program has been largely a success with a substantial amount of foreign capital being invested in job creating projects in the United States. Everyone in the EB-5 space would like to see an extension of the EB-5 legislation for at least a five (5) year period.

    Since 2008, the Program’s annual contribution to foreign direct investment inbound into the U.S. grew over 1,200% to total almost $5 billion in fiscal year 2015 alone. This investment capital is creating tens of thousands of jobs for U.S. workers in diverse communities by funding projects in a wide variety of industry sectors across the country.

    Will Congress take any action this year to reform the current EB-5 legislation? I believe not.

    This is a Presidential election year. It is very likely that Congress will defer on making any substantive changes to the EB-5 program until 2017. Immigration reform legislation has never passed both houses of Congress in an election year.

    The economic benefits of the EB-5 program are not in dispute. The major issue that Congress needs to address is improving the compliance portion of the legislation. This will provide transparency to the program. Something that is much needed.


SCRA Announces Executive Director

Robert “Bob” Quinn Selected to Head Economic Development Group
COLUMBIA, S.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– SCRA, a state-chartered organization that promotes job creation in South Carolina’s technology economy, today announced its new executive director. Robert “Bob” Quinn will serve as the organization’s leader beginning August 1, 2016.

Quinn is currently at the Battelle Memorial Institute, having worked in various executive roles with the company and affiliated companies since 1990. Battelle is the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization, with over 22,000 employees at more than 60 locations globally. Most recently, Quinn has been the Managing Director for Technology Commercialization and Advisory Services for Battelle’s subsidiary, 360ip Pte. Ltd. In this capacity, he has established extensive relationships with universities, national laboratories, corporations and government agencies. He has worked collaboratively with the company’s investment team and serves as a Board Director of TechBridge Ventures, a technology development and commercialization company.

Throughout his career, Quinn has been extensively involved in technology development and commercialization, bringing unique knowledge of the tech-transfer process. For example, while Director of Technology Commercialization at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he managed a portfolio of over 850 patents, over 500 patent applications and over 100 licenses.

“For the past eight years, I have been focused on technology commercialization and economic development primarily in Asia and the Middle East. My new position at SCRA provides me with the opportunity to use my decades of experience to advance the economy in South Carolina – a state that I love dearly,” stated Quinn. “I look forward to utilizing my experience to grow and develop the state’s innovation economy by enhancing the SC Launch program, furthering commercialization of university research and building industry partnerships.”

“Bob is a proven leader with substantial, relevant experience and quantifiable results. He is uniquely qualified for the executive director role given his background in strategic alignment with universities, governments and other collaborative relationships, investments and due diligence and technology commercialization,” said SCRA Board of Trustees’ Chairman Bill Blume. “In SCRA’s enabling legislation, we were tasked with collaborating with the research universities to assist in research and technology development and growing South Carolina’s technology-based economy. Bob is the ideal candidate to execute and implement SCRA’s strategic plan, and we look forward to leveraging his leadership skills to build upon existing relationships and cultivate high-tech job growth throughout the state.”

About SCRA
Chartered in 1983 by the state of South Carolina, SCRA enriches South Carolina’s technology economy. SCRA improves the development and growth of South Carolina’s innovation ecosystem by supporting entrepreneurs, enabling university research commercialization and connecting industry to innovators.

View source version on

Micki H. MacNaughton, 843-697-9226

SC Ports Authority Welcomes 8,500 TEU Vessel Via Newly-Expanded Panama Canal

Charleston, SC – July 14, 2016 –  Today South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) welcomed the Hannover Bridge, first post-Panamax size vessel to call Charleston after transiting the newly-opened Panama Canal expansion.

“SCPA is already benefiting from the upsizing of vessels in response to the expansion, with 16 of the 26 weekly container vessel calls in Charleston now being served by large ships formerly known as post-Panamax,” said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. “The arrival of the first 8,500-class vessel to pass through the newly-expanded Panama Canal locks bound for Charleston is a milestone for our port and maritime industry. We look forward to seeing this larger class of vessels more frequently in our harbor, which offers the depth and capacity required to serve the biggest ships deployed to the Southeast.”

The Hannover Bridge, an 8,200 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) “K” Line vessel, calls Charleston as part of the CKYHE Alliance’s weekly All Water East Coast Loop 3 Service (AWE3) that connects the Southeast with China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea.

On the heels of larger vessel deployment and the opening of the Panama Canal expansion, SCPA expects to handle its first 14,000 TEU vessel call later this year. Charleston is currently the deepest harbor in the Southeast, routinely handling ships over 1,100 feet long and 150 feet wide with drafts up to 48 feet.

When the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project to 52 feet is completed, Charleston will offer the deepest harbor on the East Coast. Beyond harbor deepening, SCPA has a 10-year, $1.3 billion capital expenditure plan that includes the construction of a new container terminal, the Leatherman Terminal, and the modernization of existing facilities and technology.

The “K” Line vessel Hannover Bridge arrives in Charleston, the inaugural call of a post-Panamax size vessel to South Carolina Ports Authority after transiting the newly-opened Panama Canal expansion.

About South Carolina Ports Authority
South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), established by the state’s General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston, Georgetown and Greer. In 2015 SCPA handled international commerce valued at more than $74 billion while receiving no direct taxpayer subsidy. An economic development engine for the state, Port operations facilitate 187,200 statewide jobs and generate nearly $53 billion annual economic activity. Home to the Southeast’s deepest port, SCPA is the industry leader in delivering speed-to-market, seamless processes and flexibility to ensure reliable operations, big ship handling, efficient market reach and environmental responsibility. For more information on SCPA, please visit

Duke Energy grant to help promote STEM careers

Northeastern Technical College (NETC) has been awarded a grant from The Duke Energy Foundation to help increase awareness of, and engagement in, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers in the community.

The funds will be used for two summer programs specifically designed to help promote STEM careers to middle and high school aged students, and also provide counselor training to help build a better understanding of STEM career opportunities for high school graduates.

“Supporting programs like these that promote STEM careers to students early in their academic pursuits is critical to our company and the economic future of South Carolina,” said Mindy Taylor, government and community relations manager for Duke Energy.
NETC’s Camp Exploration, a summer day camp for rising seventh through tenth graders, is one of the projects the Duke Energy grant will help fund. The program will include a diverse schedule of workshops, interactive learning activities, career exploration, leadership activities and field trips to help students learn about advanced manufacturing, and STEM careers.

“We are very excited about the Duke Energy grant and what it will do to help promote STEM careers in our community,” said Sherrie Chapman, Dean of Continuing Education at NETC. “Camp Exploration will provide a fun and rewarding hands-on experience for young people, and allow them to explore potential careers.”

Camp Exploration will be held at NETC’s Cheraw campus July 10-15 and cost only $25 per student thanks to scholarships created from grant funds. For more information about this program, call 843-921-6920.

About The Duke Energy Foundation
The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to address the needs vital to the health of its communities. Annually, the Foundation funds more than $25 million in charitable grants, with a focus on education, environment, economic and workforce development, and community impact. Duke Energy has long been committed to supporting the communities where its customers and employees live and work, and will continue to build on this legacy. For more information, visit

South Carolina becomes a fully certified ‘work ready’ state

By Bill Dubensky

South Carolina is the first state in the county become fully certified under the “work ready” program. All 46 counties have met the specified workforce and education goals.

Jasper and Richland counties became the final two counties in South Carolina to achieve the designation, meaning all 46 counties in the state meet the required ACT standards on matching education to workforce needs.

South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) spokesman Bob Bouyea told South Carolina Radio Network that it’s a way to match an individual’s skills with jobs. “That means that a certain number of people have taken the test and have scored where they are on their skills. And then we try to apply that to jobs that are available,” Bouyea said.

The test is usually part of the school curriculum. “A lot of them take it in high school. All 11th graders take this test,” said Bouyea.  “Others can take it at our work centers around the state.”

“Now what we have is currently in the state over 353,000 people have taken this test,” Bouyea said.

To become a South Carolina Work Ready Community, each county had to reach or exceed goals in earning National Career Readiness Certificates achieved through testing.They also had to meet or exceed the three-year graduation rate average or improvement percentage, and had to engage business support.

State and Local Sales Tax Rates, Midyear 2016

ByJared Walczak,
Scott Drenkard

FISCAL FACT No. 515: State and Local Sales Tax Rates, Midyear 2016 (PDF)

Key Findings

∙ Forty-five states and the District of Columbia collect statewide sales taxes.

∙ Local sales taxes are collected in 38 states.

∙ The five states with the highest average combined state and local sales tax rates are Louisiana (9.99 percent), Tennessee (9.45 percent), Arkansas (9.30 percent), Alabama (8.97 percent), and Washington (8.92 percent).

∙ Sales tax rates differ by state, but sales tax bases also impact how much revenue is collected from a tax and how the tax affects the economy.

∙  Sales tax rate differentials can induce consumers to shop across borders or buy products online.


Retail sales taxes are one of the more transparent ways to collect tax revenue. While graduated income tax rates and brackets are complex and confusing to many taxpayers, sales taxes are easier to understand; consumers can see their tax burden printed directly on their receipts.

In addition to state-level sales taxes, consumers also face local sales taxes in 38 states. These rates can be substantial, so a state with a moderate statewide sales tax rate could actually have a very high combined state and local rate compared to other states. This report provides a population-weighted average of local sales taxes as of July 1, 2016, in an attempt to give a sense of the average local rate for each state. Table 1 provides a full state-by-state listing of state and local sales tax rates.

Combined Rates

Five states do not have statewide sales taxes: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. Of these, Alaska and Montana allow localities to charge local sales taxes.[1]

The five states with the highest average combined state and local sales tax rates are Louisiana (9.99 percent), Tennessee (9.45 percent), Arkansas (9.30 percent), Alabama (8.97 percent), and Washington (8.92 percent).

The five states with the lowest average combined rates are Alaska (1.78 percent), Hawaii (4.35 percent), Wisconsin (5.41 percent), Wyoming (5.42 percent), and Maine (5.5 percent).

State Rates

California has the highest state-level sales tax rate, at 7.5 percent.[2] Five states tie for the second-highest statewide rate, at 7 percent: Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

The lowest non-zero, state-level sales tax is in Colorado, which has a rate of 2.9 percent. Five states follow with 4 percent rates: Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, New York, and Wyoming.[3]

Two other states began the year with rates of 4 percent, but increased them in the first six months of the year. Louisiana increased its state-level tax rate to 5 percent, which, combined with its average local tax rate of 4.99 percent, gives it the highest state and local combined sales tax rate in the nation, up from third at the beginning of the year. South Dakota’s state sales tax rate rose half a percentage point to 4.5 percent, shifting the state eight places in the overall rankings. No other states increased their state-level sales tax in the first half of 2016.

Local Rates

The five states with the highest average local sales tax rates are Louisiana (4.99 percent), Alabama (4.98 percent), Colorado (4.60 percent), New York (4.50 percent), and Oklahoma (4.44 percent). Although Cook County, Illinois (home to Chicago), and Clark County, Nevada (home to Las Vegas), both increased sales tax rates on January 1 of this year, no major cities have raised their local sales tax rates since. With rate revisions limited to smaller municipalities, fluctuations in average local sales tax rates were modest for the first half of 2016.

The border county of Salem County, New Jersey, is exempt from collecting the 7 percent statewide sales tax and instead collects a 3.5 percent local tax, a policy designed to help local retailers compete with neighboring Delaware, which foregoes a sales tax. We represent this anomaly as a negative 0.03 percent statewide average local rate (adjusting for population as described in the methodology section below), and the combined rate reflects this subtraction. Despite the slightly favorable impact on the overall rate, this lower rate represents an implicit acknowledgment by New Jersey officials that their 7 percent statewide rate is uncompetitive with neighboring Delaware, which has no sales tax.

State and Local Sales Tax Rates as of July 1, 2016
State State Tax Rate Rank Avg. Local Tax Rate (a) Combined Rate Combined Rank Max Local Tax Rate
Alabama 4.00% 40 4.97% 8.97% 4 7.00%
Alaska 0.00% 46 1.78% 1.78% 46 7.50%
Arizona 5.60% 28 2.65% 8.25% 11 5.30%
Arkansas 6.50% 9 2.80% 9.30% 3 5.13%
California (b) 7.50% 1 0.98% 8.48% 10 2.50%
Colorado 2.90% 45 4.60% 7.50% 16 8.00%
Connecticut 6.35% 12 0.00% 6.35% 31 0.00%
Delaware 0.00% 46 0.00% 0.00% 47 0.00%
Florida 6.00% 16 0.66% 6.66% 30 1.50%
Georgia 4.00% 40 3.00% 7.00% 23 4.00%
Hawaii (c) 4.00% 40 0.35% 4.35% 45 0.50%
Idaho 6.00% 16 0.03% 6.03% 37 3.00%
Illinois 6.25% 13 2.40% 8.65% 7 4.75%
Indiana 7.00% 2 0.00% 7.00% 21 0.00%
Iowa 6.00% 16 0.80% 6.80% 27 1.00%
Kansas 6.50% 9 2.11% 8.61% 8 4.00%
Kentucky 6.00% 16 0.00% 6.00% 38 0.00%
Louisiana 5.00% 33 4.98% 9.98% 1 7.00%
Maine 5.50% 29 0.00% 5.50% 42 0.00%
Maryland 6.00% 16 0.00% 6.00% 38 0.00%
Massachusetts 6.25% 13 0.00% 6.25% 35 0.00%
Michigan 6.00% 16 0.00% 6.00% 38 0.00%
Minnesota 6.88% 7 0.43% 7.31% 17 1.50%
Mississippi 7.00% 2 0.07% 7.07% 20 1.00%
Missouri 4.23% 39 3.64% 7.87% 14 5.00%
Montana (d) 0.00% 46 0.00% 0.00% 47 0.00%
Nebraska 5.50% 29 1.37% 6.87% 26 2.00%
Nevada 6.85% 8 1.13% 7.98% 13 1.30%
New Hampshire 0.00% 46 0.00% 0.00% 47 0.00%
New Jersey (e) 7.00% 2 -0.03% 6.97% 24 3.50%
New Mexico (c) 5.13% 32 2.42% 7.55% 15 3.56%
New York 4.00% 40 4.49% 8.49% 9 4.88%
North Carolina 4.75% 36 2.15% 6.90% 25 2.75%
North Dakota 5.00% 33 1.78% 6.78% 28 3.50%
Ohio 5.75% 27 1.39% 7.14% 19 2.25%
Oklahoma 4.50% 37 4.35% 8.85% 6 6.50%
Oregon 0.00% 46 0.00% 0.00% 47 0.00%
Pennsylvania 6.00% 16 0.34% 6.34% 33 2.00%
Rhode Island 7.00% 2 0.00% 7.00% 21 0.00%
South Carolina 6.00% 16 1.23% 7.23% 18 2.50%
South Dakota (c) 4.50% 37 1.84% 6.34% 32 2.00%
Tennessee 7.00% 2 2.45% 9.45% 2 2.75%
Texas 6.25% 13 1.92% 8.17% 12 2.00%
Utah (b) 5.95% 26 0.81% 6.76% 29 2.15%
Vermont 6.00% 16 0.17% 6.17% 36 1.00%
Virginia (b) 5.30% 31 0.33% 5.63% 41 0.70%
Washington 6.50% 9 2.42% 8.92% 5 3.40%
West Virginia 6.00% 16 0.29% 6.29% 34 1.00%
Wisconsin 5.00% 33 0.41% 5.41% 44 1.75%
Wyoming 4.00% 40 1.42% 5.42% 43 2.00%
D.C. 5.75% N/A 0.00% 5.75% N/A 0.00%
(a) City, county and municipal rates vary. These rates are weighted by population to compute an average local tax rate.
(b) Three states levy mandatory, statewide, local add-on sales taxes: California (1%), Utah (1.25%), Virginia (1%). We include these in their state sales taxes.
(c) The sales taxes in Hawaii, New Mexico and South Dakota have broad bases that include many services.
(d) Due to data limitations, this table does not include sales taxes in local resort areas in Montana.
(e) Salem County is not subject to the statewide sales tax rate and collects a local rate of 3.5%. New Jersey’s average local score is represented as a negative.
Sources: Sales Tax Clearinghouse, Tax Foundation calculations, State Revenue Department websites

The Role of Competition in Setting Sales Tax Rates

Avoidance of sales tax is most likely to occur in areas where there is a significant difference between two jurisdictions’ sales tax rates. Research indicates that consumers can and do leave high-tax areas to make major purchases in low-tax areas, such as from cities to suburbs.[4] For example, evidence suggests that Chicago-area consumers make major purchases in surrounding suburbs or online to avoid Chicago’s 10.25 percent sales tax rate.[5]

At the statewide level, businesses sometimes locate just outside the borders of high sales tax areas to avoid being subjected to their rates. A stark example of this occurs in New England, where even though I-91 runs up the Vermont side of the Connecticut River, many more retail establishments choose to locate on the New Hampshire side to avoid sales taxes. One study shows that per capita sales in border counties in sales tax-free New Hampshire have tripled since the late 1950s, while per capita sales in border counties in Vermont have remained stagnant.[6]

The state of Delaware actually uses its highway welcome sign to remind motorists that Delaware is the “Home of Tax-Free Shopping.”[7] State and local governments should be cautious about raising rates too high relative to their neighbors because doing so will yield less revenue than expected or, in extreme cases, revenue losses despite the higher tax rate.

Sales Tax Bases: The Other Half of the Equation

This report ranks states based on tax rates and does not account for differences in tax bases (e.g., the structure of sales taxes, defining what is taxable and non-taxable). States can vary greatly in this regard. For instance, most states exempt groceries from the sales tax, others tax groceries at a limited rate, and still others tax groceries at the same rate as all other products.[8] Some states exempt clothing or tax it at a reduced rate.[9]

Tax experts generally recommend that sales taxes apply to all final retail sales of goods and services but not intermediate business-to-business transactions in the production chain. These recommendations would result in a tax system that is not only broad-based but also “right-sized,” applying once and only once to each product the market produces.[10] Despite agreement in theory, the application of most state sales taxes is far from this ideal.[11]

Hawaii has the broadest sales tax in the United States, but it taxes many products multiple times and, by one estimate, ultimately taxes 99.21 percent of the state’s personal income.[12] This base is far wider than the national median, where the sales tax applies to 34.46 percent of personal income.[13]


Sales Tax Clearinghouse publishes quarterly sales tax data at the state, county, and city levels by ZIP code. We weight these numbers according to Census 2010 population figures in an attempt to give a sense of the prevalence of sales tax rates in a particular state.

It is worth noting that population numbers are only published at the ZIP code level every 10 years by the Census Bureau, and that editions of this calculation published before July 1, 2011, do not utilize ZIP data and are thus not strictly comparable.

It should also be noted that while the Census Bureau reports population data using a five-digit identifier that looks much like a ZIP code, this is actually what is called a ZIP Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA), which attempts to create a geographical area associated with a given ZIP code. This is done because a surprisingly large number of ZIP codes do not actually have any residents. For example, the National Press Building in Washington, D.C., has its own ZIP code solely for postal reasons.

For our purposes, ZIP codes that do not have a corresponding ZCTA population figure are omitted from calculations. These omissions result in some amount of inexactitude but overall do not have a palpable effect on resultant averages because proximate ZIP code areas which do have ZCTA population numbers capture the tax rate of those jurisdictions.


Sales taxes are just one part of an overall tax structure and should be considered in context. For example, Washington State has high sales taxes but no income tax, whereas Oregon has no sales tax but high income taxes. While many factors influence business location and investment decisions, sales taxes are something within policymakers’ control that can have immediate impacts

Computer technology leads to innovation in agriculture

It’s not a stretch to say that computer technology has changed almost every business in the world over the last couple of decades.
One industry that is seeing a wave of new innovations involving technology is agriculture. By combining global positioning systems (GPS) and soil sample data, local farmers are going high tech to improve their crops.

“It is about reducing the inputs (of fertilizer and other chemicals) while increasing yields and being better stewards of the environment,” says Blenheim area farmer Pat Rogers.

He is one of several Marlboro County farmers who are working to make the most of computerized farming.

Rogers, after attending an agricultural technology conference last winter, invested in equipment and software to do his own soil sampling and fertilizer application.

“In the past, an entire field would get a blanket coverage of fertilizer, based on an average of a couple of soil samples throughout the field,” said Rogers.

Since the types of soil in each field can vary a great deal, that usually resulted in some areas of the field getting more fertilizer than it needed, while the others were not receiving enough.

More recently, fertilizer companies which offer application services, began using GPS data, allowing them to vary the volume of fertilizer distributed in different parts of each field.

However, Rogers says that the equipment that he and other farmers in the area are using will allow them to take the precision aspect of farming even further.

“The idea is to treat a big field like a bunch of small ones. I can make as many soil samples as I wish, record the GPS coordinates of each sample and send it off for analysis,” he explains.

The data he gets back from the laboratory feeds directly into software on his laptop computer. More importantly, it loads into the computer on his tractor.

The tractor communicates with a controller on the fertilizer spreader as it pulls through the field, instructing the machine how much lime, phosphorus or potassium to distribute.

Another primary nutrient, nitrogen, is applied after the crop has sprouted. It has always been applied in a set rate across the field. Here is where the next innovation in “ag-tech” will come in.

Rogers says the next step is to integrate yield data from each year into the formula to determine the right amount of fertilizer.

“Our combine and cotton picker have on-board computers that record how much the machine is gathering at any one time. That includes the GPS coordinates. So we can see exactly where in each field the crop performed the best,” says Rogers.

The operator’s cabin of his John Deere combine looks like a computer room, with digital displays and controls. To the right of the driver’s seat is a touch-screen about the size of an Apple I-pad.

On this screen, the operator can monitor exactly how much corn or soybeans the machine is gathering.

This yield data will later be loaded into Rogers’ laptop. Combining that information with the soil sample data and the amount of fertilizer used to produce that crop, he will be able to further tune in on the perfect concentration of nutrients each area of a field needs.

He will also begin applying nitrogen in varying amounts, based on the yield results.

“Unlike the soil samples, the yield data is something that will take several years to collect to get a meaningful picture,” he says.

Over time, the variations caused by the volume of rainfall and other weather conditions will average out. He also predicts that future versions of the software will begin to accumulate data for those variables.

The primary goal is to produce more crops but Rogers expects to reduce spending on fertilizer and lime. By having precise control, very little unnecessary fertilizer will be used and that will be a benefit to the environment.

“This technology is advancing quickly. There is no telling where this may take us in the future,” says Rogers.