By STEVE JONES Staff writer

SHOP ROME FIRST RESULTS — Michael Manuel, chairman of the board of directors of the Rome Chamber of Commerce, announces results of the Shop Rome First program today. At left, Mayor Joseph R. Fusco Jr. looks on. (Sentinel photo by John Clifford)

December sales tax revenue in Rome increased over 8 percent over the previous December, according to numbers from the City Treasurer’s Office.

The revenue for the city was $588,040 compared with $543,686 in December 2011, it was announced by Rome Area Chamber of Commerce board Chair Michael J. Manuele.

The chamber today announced the continued increase in sales tax revenue in December, a product, said Manuele, of its Shop Rome First promotion.

The promotion started after the chamber commissioned a Zogby International poll in 2001 that found that 75 percent of Romans were shopping outside the city at Christmas time.

The Retail Committee developed the annual campaign from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Since 2002, this regional holiday promotion has been supported by local businesses and sponsors, and it features thousands of dollars’ worth of contest prizes, a themed Treasure Hunt and discounts during November and December, officials at the Rome Chamber of Commerce said today. .

"Spending at Rome retailers helps to preserve and grow Rome jobs," said Manuele.

"Employees of Rome retailers who live and shop in Rome add to the economic stability of Rome. Sales tax receipts collected by businesses are used to fund the local government, and that, in turn, lessens the likelihood of property tax increases. Shopping in Rome first for products and services before considering any other sources is important because, when practiced, we encourage job growth, generate sales tax revenue, and build our tax base. A vibrant, healthy business community is also necessary to fund the increasing costs of public education."

Mayor Joseph R. Fusco Jr. called the increase "tremendous news." The December increase from 2011 to 2012 — almost $45,000 — equates to a spending increase of about $3 million, he noted. "The word is out," he said, noting that people are recognizing more and more why shopping in Rome is important. "People are taking the time to think about where to spend their hard earned money."