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Restaurants, Retailers, Manufacturers, Healthcare Providers, Construction Companies, Hotels, Farms, Investment Firms and other Businesses Applaud Higher Minimum Wage

For Immediate Release July 26, 2007
Contact: Ateqah Khaki or David Lerner
Riptide Communications, 212.260.5000

New York, NY – The federal minimum wage went up this week, ending the longest period without a raise since 1938 when the minimum wage was enacted. The chief executives of Costco, Addus HealthCare, the US Women's Chamber of Commerce, Eileen Fisher Inc., Small Business Majority, ABC Home, NHS Human Services, Seventh Generation, Small Business California, FiRE+iCE Restaurants and small business owners in every state are among those saying the higher minimum wage will boost business. As Costco CEO Jim Sinegal emphasizes, "Paying your employees well is not only the right thing to do, but it makes for good business."

"In Georgia, one of the reddest of the 'Red States,' one might expect an almost universal denouncement of the raise in the minimum wage," Lya Sorano, founder of Atlanta Women in Business, said. "In fact, the opposite is true. Business owners and managers I've spoken with aren't concerned. They're glad the wage is going up because workers deserve it, and they believe it will help our local economy."

Contrary to what critics predicted while opposing minimum wage hikes at the state and federal level, states that have raised their minimum wages above the federal level have had faster retail and small business job growth than the other states.

"A minimum wage increase makes straightforward economic sense," said Lew Prince, co-owner of Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, MO. "It means more money in the hands of people who are going to spend it. Low minimum wages do NOT help small business. Small business owners know that keeping workers is easier and cheaper than finding and training new workers. And small business owners know that the longer an employee stays with you – the more they know about your business and your customers, and the higher their productivity."

Voicing the sentiments of restaurant owners across the country -- from the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York to Garnett Dairy Queen in Kansas and 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."

In a statement with more than 800 signers, business leaders from all around the country assert: "Higher wages benefit business by increasing consumer purchasing power, reducing costly employee turnover, raising productivity, and improving product quality, customer satisfaction and company reputation. 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."

The minimum wage has been so eroded over time that even after reaching $6.55 in July 2008 and $7.25 in 2009, the minimum wage will still be lower than it was in 1956, when it was $7.65 in today's dollars. It will be much lower than it was in 1968, when the minimum wage peaked in value at $9.56 in today's dollars.

"Even the higher rate of $7.25 is an insult to workers and employers," says Amy Ventura, co-president of Storm Graphic Arts in Montclair, VA, a 2006 Prince William Regional Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year."Yes, small business owners must spend wisely, but this means paying our workforce a fair wage if we expect quality work. I want the federal government to recognize hard work and raise the minimum wage so everyone who works can support themselves and their families."

"Business can make a profit without keeping workers in poverty," says John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority. "Most business leaders recognize that we need to focus our energies in building a strong, competitive 21st century economy that creates the jobs of the future. A minimum wage that promotes stability and economic prosperity is a necessary component of progress. It is time that traditional organizations who claim to represent small businesses recognize this."

Adnan Durrani, president of Condor Ventures and venture partner in Blue Chip Venture Capital, speaks from long experience in saying, "I have found that without exception in the successful ventures we've backed, providing sustainable living wages yielded direct increases in productivity, job satisfaction and brand loyalty from customers, all contributing to higher returns for investors and employers."

Gary Theilen, owner of Theilen Farm and Cattle in Enid, Oklahoma, sums up, "As a small business owner who has always paid well above the minimum wage, it has been my experience that paying living wages simply makes good business sense. It is good for business, workers and the community."

To arrange interviews with businesspeople around the country, contact Riptide Communications 212.260.5000.


Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a project of Business for Shared Prosperity, a new network of forward-thinking business owners, executives and investors committed to building enduring economic progress on a strong foundation of opportunity, equity and innovation.


FOR the FULL STATEMENT and MORE QUOTES from business people supporting higher minimum wage, please visit: