#226. Follow the Money

Posted on | The Agurban

Follow the Money

Sometimes a story just warms your heart. There are people out there who understand what makes an economic stimulus work. Following is a great story that makes tracking the impact of the stimulus easy and a lot of fun.

BREWTON, AL (pop. 5,498)– A small-town pharmacist intrigued by the government’s economic stimulus plan decided to launch his own version with $16,000 in $2 bills, and area stores have already felt the impact.

Danny Cottrell gave each of his full-time employees $700 and part-timers $300. He asked them to donate 15 percent to charity and spend the rest locally, particularly downtown, where store owners say that business has been lean.

“I wanted to do something for my employees, let them know our business is not in jeopardy, and for the local merchants,” said Danny Cottrell, owner of The Medical Center Pharmacy with its main store in Brewton and a second in Atmore. “This seemed like a good way to do it.”

Cottrell said he paid his employees with $2 bills so he and the rest of the Escambia County business community could see how the money circulates.

Before he explained the plan to his employees last week, Cottrell said, he couldn’t resist creating a little suspense.

“Times are hard,” he said, “and the downturn has hit us some. Employees start to worry if they will even have a job. So I called a meeting of the staff. One employee broke out in hives from the nerves. My partner, Tom Henderson, said he heard some employees talking about the meeting. They were scared to death.”

Cottrell said he began the meeting as usual, encouraging workers to answer phones faster and serve customers better. Then he began passing out envelopes.

When workers saw the cash, some were so excited that they wept, he said.

Workers are keeping a log of the stores that they visit, more than 65 at last count. Some have stopped in at stores they never tried before.

From the Winn-Dixie to the Peebles department store, merchants said the $2 bills have been noticed.

“I’ve had three customers this week come in and pay with $2 bills,” said Candy Smith, owner of a clothing boutique downtown.

“The $2 bills make it easy to see where it’s going, see how it turns over and generates tax revenue that helps our town and schools,” said Sammy Weaver, whose store sells jewelry and clothing. “I plan to save up the bills that come in here and pay Danny (Cottrell) my bill with them.”

Some of the $2 bills have even circulated back to the pharmacy.

“It’s not a huge amount of money,” Cottrell said of his hometown stimulus package. “It would have a more noticeable impact if someone with more resources came up with a huge amount of money, but the times are tough.”

Still, for the workers with the windfall, this is just more of their boss’ big heart shining through, they said.

Source:Ā  www.al.com, Mobile Press-Register