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$2.8B school building plan also = jobs

How can a school system influence a local economy?

By planning $2.8 billion in capital improvements over the next seven years - 37 new schools, 2,527 new classrooms, five new school clusters. The building plan will mean additional business for architects, engineers, contractors and, eventually, teachers.

School leaders will spend the next few months hitting the bricks to sell the idea to the public. Its first phase depends on voters extending the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, known as SPLOST - a move that could generate $1.1 billion.

Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said he thinks the community will support the plan.

"It's ambitious," Wilbanks said. "If you are going to address a $2.8 billion building need, you'd better be

aggressive."

On the scoreboard

Gwinnett Hospital System hopes to score points with its latest advertising campaign.

The community hospital system is the latest sponsor in the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth. The deal, whose financial terms have not been disclosed, gives the hospital system meeting space within the arena's Club Lounge and the Gwinnett Convention Center.

The multiyear partnership also allows Gwinnett Hospital System to promote its new sports medicine program and the opening of Gwinnett Medical Center Duluth this fall.

The nonprofit health care network is anchored by Gwinnett Medical Center, the largest hospital in the county. It will be the only hospital promoted in the arena.

Gwinnett Hospital System becomes the 10th official arena sponsor, joining Bluegreen Vacations, Brand Bank, Bud Light, Charter Communications, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Jackson EMC, Toyota and United Distributors.

Time for another

sales tax siesta

For retailers, it's almost like Christmas in August.

Georgia's annual sales tax holiday starts Aug. 3 and ends Aug. 6 on schools supplies, clothing items, computers, computer accessories and certain Energy Star merchandise.

Many retailers consider it the biggest rush of the year besides the holidays.

Opinions are still mixed about the merits of sales tax holidays.

Opponents say they are politically driven and a distraction from a real debate about sound fiscal policy. However, 11 other states or districts have adopted them in the past few years: Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and New Mexico.

"I think states are finding these holidays do help encourage certain types of spending," said Rachelle Bernstein, vice president, tax council, with the National Retail Federation. "Some argue it's just substituting one sale in a different part of the year for another, but the retailers say they're seeing additional spending."