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Costco CEO, Small Business Majority, US Women's Chamber of Commerce, Business Leaders Nationwide Urge Senate To Raise Minimum Wage

Contact: Mahdis Keshavarz, Riptide Communications, 212-260-5000,

January 29, 2007, New York, NY -- For a record-breaking 10 years, the federal minimum wage has not been raised largely due to the lobbying efforts of elements of the business community and their allies in Congress. However, a fast-growing campaign led by small and large business men and women are saying a higher minimum wage is in fact good for business. While the Congress debates the issue, states that have led the way by raising their minimum wages above the current $5.15 minimum wage have had better employment and small business trends than states that have not.

"Congress should know the facts are very clear versus the misinformation that's been spread over the years," said Adnan Durrani, President of Condor Ventures, an investment banking firm that specializes in technology and consumer product companies. "It is a sound business decision to increase the minimum wage." Higher wages benefit business by increasing consumer purchasing power, reducing costly employee turnover, raising productivity, and improving product quality, customer satisfaction and company reputation.

Jim Sinegal, CEO of Costco, the nation's largest wholesale club operator with 49 million cardholders, has signed the statement in support of raising the minimum wage. Sinegal said, "The increase in the minimum wage is long overdue. I hope Congress and the President will move swiftly to enact sensible legislation that will demonstrate our nation's commitment to reward hard work."

Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, said, "We all lose when American workers are underpaid. Whether as business owners or employees, women have a significant stake in providing for their families and their communities. More than a quarter of all working women hold service, production, transportation and material moving occupations, which are often subject to low pay, minimum wage earnings. The majority of women are living without a spouse. By not paying workers a living wage, we assure that a mother working hard to support her family will not be able to make ends meet."

"Investing in employees is the single most important investment that a company can make," said Brian Smith, managing partner of Blackfoot River Brewing Company in Helena, MT, a state where a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage passed by 73%.

Voicing the sentiments of restaurant owners across the country -- from the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York to Taco del Sol in Montana -- Kirsten Poole, co-owner of Kirsten's Cafe and Dish Caterers in Silver Spring, MD, said, "Trying to save money by shortchanging my employees would be like skimping on ingredients. I'd lose more than I saved because of declining quality, service, reputation and customer base. You can't build a healthy business or a healthy economy on a miserly minimum wage."

The statement supporting higher minimum wage and a list of sample signatories appear below. Sign-On is continuing at

Business Owners and Executives for a Higher Minimum Wage is a project of Business for Shared Prosperity in partnership with the Let Justice Roll campaign to raise the minimum wage. Business for Shared Prosperity is a new network, in formation, of forward-thinking business owners, executives and investors committed to building enduring economic progress on a strong foundation of opportunity, equity and innovation.

To arrange interviews with businesspeople as well as low-wage workers around the country, contact Riptide Communications 212.260.5000.



-- Jim Sinegal, CEO, Costco
-- Margot Dorfman, CEO, U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce
-- John Arensmeyer, CEO, Small Business Majority
-- Eileen Fisher, Chief Creative Officer, apparel company Eileen Fisher
-- Bill Foster, Co-Founder, Electronic Theatre Controls
-- Arnold Hiatt, former CEO, Stride Rite
-- Elisabeth Gehl, Director of Public Policy, Business & Professional Women/USA
-- Jeff Milchen, Co-Founder, American Independent Business Alliance
-- Elliot Hoffman, CEO, New Voice of Business
-- Deborah Nelson, Executive Director, Social Venture Network
-- Doug Hammond, President, Relief Resources, Hatfield, MA & Co-Founder, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
-- Suzanne Ball, Owner, Dixie Rod & Custom, Gulf Shores, AL
-- Kathy Webb, Owner, Lilly's Dim Sum, Then Sum, Little Rock, AR
-- Rick Keefe, President, R-Galaxy, Tucson, AZ
-- Robert Taylor, Owner, Channel Islands Data Supply, Camarillo, CA
-- Amy Lyman, Chair, Board of Directors, Great Place to Work Institute, Inc., San Francisco, CA
-- Marilyn Megenity, Owner, Mercury Cafe, Denver, CO
-- Heather Jernberg, Partner, Boreas Group LLC, Denver, CO
-- Adnan Durrani, President of Condor Ventures; Venture Partner, Blue Chip Venture Capital, Stamford, CT
-- Alison Houck, Manager, McBride Shopa & Co., Rehobeth Beach, DE
-- Rose Marie Ray, Owner, Pamian Inc and Innkeeper (ret), Mansion House B&B, Seminole, FL
-- Tirza Hollenhorst, President, ifPeople, Atlanta, GA
-- Jean Bunz, President, Clinical Massage and Reflexology, Gilmore City, IA
-- Gerry Queener, Owner, Calochortus Creations, Troy, ID
-- David Borris, Owner, Hel's Kitchen Catering, Northbrook, IL
-- Karla Lucas, Owner, Lucas Computer Repair, Hoxie, KS
-- Mary O'Bryan, Owner, Health Care Promotions LLC, Louisville, KY
-- Marianne Frazee, Owner, Frazee Recruiting Consultants Inc, Baton Rouge, LA
-- Robert Glassman, Chairman, Wainwright Bank & Trust Co, Boston, MA
-- Ben Strohecker, Founder,, Harbor Sweets, Inc, Marblehead, MA
-- Kirsten Poole, Owner, Kirsten's Cafe and Dish Caterers, Silver Spring, MD
-- Jim Wellehan, President, Lamey Wellehan Shoes, Auburn, ME
-- Michael Kitchen, Managing Partner, Waking Up, Warren, MI
-- Carmen Barker Lemay, CEO, Integrative Growth, Minneapolis, MN
-- Lew Prince, Co-Owner, Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis, MO
-- Shalon Hastings, Owner, Taco del Sol, Helena, MT
-- Brian Smith, Managing Partner, Blackfoot River Brewing Company LLC, Helena, MT
-- Jane & Donald Gilbert, Owners, Gilbert Farm, Leland, NC
-- David Kirkpatrick, Managing Director, SJF Ventures, Durham, NC
-- Jerod Hawk, Owner, Amega Computers, Bismark, ND
-- Don Reeves, Owner & Policy Consultant, Farm, Central City, NE
-- Charles Henderson, President, Chuck Roast Equipment Inc., Conway, NH
-- Paul Lightfoot, President & CEO, AL Systems, Inc, Rockaway, NJ
-- Dianne Hartshom, President, The Hartshorn Group, Parsippany, NJ
-- Eli Lee, CEO, Soltari Inc, Albuquerque, NM
-- Alex Von Bidder, President, The Four Seasons Restaurant, NY
-- Ajax Greene, Co-founder, On Belay Business Advisors, New Paltz, NY
-- Peter Strugatz, Co-Ceo, IceStone LLC, Brooklyn, NY
-- Roy Eastman, Owner, Electroshield Inc, Yellow Springs, OH
-- Kathleen Goggin, Owner, Massage Connection LLC, Cleveland, OH
-- Bishop Steven Scott, CEO, Dr. J.W. Jones Center for Training & Inner-City Development, Cincinnati, OH
-- Jeff Brown, President, Homes with a Heartbeat, Oklahoma City, OK
-- Ron Siegman, Owner, Natural Lawn of America, Oklahoma City, OK
-- Gary Theilen, Owner, Theilen Farms & Cattle, Enid, OK
-- Susan Stoltenberg, Executive director, Portland Impact, Inc., Portland, OR
-- Jody Wiser, Former Owner, RoadRunner Ranch, Inc., Portland, OR
-- Judy Wicks, Owner, White Dog Cafe; Co-Chair, Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
-- Faye Gadsden, President & CEO, FLG Consulting LLC, Cumberland, RI
-- Mary Keller, Owner/partner, Keller Law Office, Huron, SD
-- Bert Bornblum, Owner (retired), Bert's and Greg's clothing stores, Memphis, TN
-- Bernard Rapoport, Chairman Emeritus, American Income Life Insurance Company, Waco, TX
-- Sue Martin, Owner, Co-Creative Works LLC, Salt Lake City, UT
-- Fess Green, Professor of Business Management, College of Business and Economics, Radford, VA
-- Jeffrey Hollender, President, Seventh Generation, Burlington, VT
-- John Moltz, Manager, Giant Squid Productions LLC, Tacoma, WA
-- Lin Clousing, Legislative Chair, Business & Professional Women/WI, Thiensville, WI
-- Terrell Ellis, President, Terrell Ellis & Associates, Inc., Charleston, WV



We, the undersigned business owners and executives, support an increase in the minimum wage to benefit workers, business and our economy. We know that a minimum wage of $5.15 an hour is simply not enough for workers to afford necessities for themselves and their families. We know that a fair wage floor is essential to healthy businesses and communities, and enduring economic growth.

We expect an increased minimum wage to provide a boost to local economies. Businesses and communities will benefit as low-wage workers spend their much-needed pay raises at businesses in the neighborhoods where they live and work.

Higher wages benefit business by increasing consumer purchasing power, reducing costly employee turnover, raising productivity, and improving product quality, customer satisfaction and company reputation. In a recent National Consumers League survey, for example, 76 percent of American consumers said "how well a company treats/pays employees influences what they buy."

States that have raised their minimum wages above the inadequate $5.15 federal level have had better employment and small business trends than the other states. Studies by the Fiscal Policy Institute and others show that in states with minimum wages above $5.15, the number of small businesses and the number of small business employees grew more than the other states -- contrary to what critics predicted. Likewise, after the last federal minimum wage increases in 1996 and 1997, the nation experienced lower unemployment, low inflation, robust growth and declining poverty rates.

At $5.15 an hour, today's minimum wage workers have less buying power than minimum wage workers had half a century ago. We cannot build a strong 21st century economy on a 1950's wage floor. We cannot build a strong 21st century economy when more and more hardworking Americans struggle to make ends meet.

A fair minimum wage shows we value both work and responsible businesses. A fair minimum wage is a sound investment in the future of our communities and our nation.