Times Record (AR): Minimum wage hike widely approved by Sebastian County voters

Times Record (Fort Smith, AR), Nov 8, 2018

Over 68 percent of Sebastian County voters approved state Issue 5 on Tuesday that calls for a gradual minimum wage hike to $11 an hour by 2021. ...

“Arkansas business owners know the minimum wage has been too low for too long and needs a boost,” Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, said in a news release. “They understand the connection between a strong wage floor and strong consumer demand, which is why they support Issue 5. Workers are also customers, and increased pay means increased consumer buying power, as well as lower employee turnover and improved productivity.”

Business owners say raising the minimum wage will help workers afford the basics, boost consumer spending, lower employee turnover, reduce hiring and training costs, increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and strengthen the economy.

Aaron “Blake” Ralston, owner of Ralston Agency with offices in Little Rock and Fort Smith, said raising the minimum wage is “important insurance” for businesses and workers.

“It will enable many more workers to make ends meet and it will boost the consumer spending that businesses depend on to survive and grow,” Ralston said in the release.

Other business owners and leaders that were quoted as approving of the measure include Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Trio’s Restaurant owner Capi Peck in Little Rock, Meg Sebastian, Sebastian Tech Solutions CEO in Jonesboro, Svendson Agency owner Steve Svendson in Rogers, and JLG Consulting owner Jamesia Givan in Little Rock.

“Raising the minimum wage to $11 by 2021 will be a win-win for Arkansas businesses and workers,” Dorfman said. “It will help small businesses like my members by putting more money in the pockets of customers, which will boost spending up and down Main Street. Raising the minimum wage to a more realistic level helps level the playing field for businesses like my members who treat employees fairly and invest in the communities they are rooted in.”

Peck said she has seen firsthand how “paying fair wages is good for business.”

“Our low turnover is invaluable from a bottom line and customer service perspective,” Peck said. “Increasing the minimum wage will give needed raises to workers who will then have more to spend as customers.”

Givan, a consultant for small and mid-sized businesses, said she wants those businesses to have a thriving customer base and engaged staff so they can succeed and continue to grow.

“Raising the minimum wage isn’t just the right thing to do for Arkansas residents, it’s the right thing to do for Arkansas businesses and our entire state economy,” Givian said.

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