Stimulus: Area businesses are hopeful

Published 8:52 am Thursday, February 19, 2009

The jury is still out on the $787 billion stimulus package signed into law by President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

Local businesses say they are hopeful the incentives provide for everything from first-time home purchases to remodeling to new car sales that would help consumers get back into the buying spirit.

Joe Murray, the owner and operated of United Country Joe Murray Realty, said he thought the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers was a good incentive.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” said Murray, whose business is made up of about 20 percent of first-time buyers. “That’s a huge incentive.”

Murray said his understanding was the tax credit would allow any first-time home owner to get $8,000 back on their taxes as long as they paid that much in during the year.

“I think it’s huge for first-time home buyers,” he said. “If they’re on the bubble of whether to buy and their job is stable, this should be helpful. It’s a great time too because inventory is high, interest rates are down and now there’s a tax credit.

“Anyone who is on the bubble, now is probably the right time,” he added.

Murray said home sales in the Roanoke-Chowan region hadn’t been hurt as badly as other areas of the country, but had struggled.

“We’re probably off 15-18 percent, but some areas are off 50, 60, 70 percent,” he said. “We’re bleeding a little bit, but we haven’t come to a halt by any means.”

At Bill Clough Ford in Windsor, General Sales Manager Curtis Street said he had a number of customers who were on the border about purchasing a new vehicle and he hoped the deduction for state motor vehicle sales tax, local motor vehicle sales tax and the motor vehicle excise tax would help.

“With the passing of the economic stimulus bill, we are hoping these steps will reassure the public and restore some confidence in the economy,” Street said. “These new steps within the bill make buying a new vehicle an even better opportunity for buyers than what was already available. For anyone that has been putting off buying or waiting for the right moment, the time just became a lot better.”

Stuart Bowers, who owns and operates Stuart Bowers Building Contractors in Northampton County, said he hopes the stimulus package works, but admitted he wasn’t sure it was the right step for the United States to take.

“I hope the people will use the incentives available for those who remodel, but I don’t like where the money is coming from,” he said. “The people who will pay it back eventually are the tax payers. I hope it works, but I’m not sure it will.”

Bowers said he did think the market was better for those who wanted to remodel more so than those who were looking to build a new home.

Mike Dail, who manages the W.H. Basnight Company location in Windsor, said he didn’t know if anyone really knew how well the package would work.

“I don’t know if there’s enough information right now to know how it will affect anyone,” he said. “I think we’re all just hoping and praying.”

Dail said his business, which is a full-service building supply store, did carry some of the products that would receive tax incentives and that he hoped it would help.

“Like everyone else, we’ve had to scale back a little,” he said. “I’m hoping that the stimulus package will have a positive impact. With that amount of money being spent, hopefully it will trickle down and help all of us.”