Spectrum Bay News 9: Small business owners, Florida chamber split as $10 minimum wage takes effect

By Mitch Perry
Spectrum Bay News 9, Sep 30, 2021

Florida’s minimum wage increased Thursday from $8.65 an hour to $10 – the first step towards an eventual $15 an hour minimum wage in 2026. The increase comes via a constitutional amendment passed by more than 61 percent of Floridians in 2020.

Business groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association opposed the measure, but there are small businesses owners who support the increase.

“It’s better for our community to have more money in their pockets,” says Leigh Anne Balzekas, the co-owner of the Disco Dolls, a clothing store, hair salon and art gallery based in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood. “If we’re looking at it from just a business standpoint, it’s better for our customers. They’re going to be better customers because they’re going to have more disposable income.”

Balzekas has six employees on her staff, all of whom she pays $15 an hour. She says it’s worth the investment to keep good employees.  “To train someone and keep talented employees – you do that by paying them fairly.” ...

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