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Say it will put more money in their customer’s pockets, increase employee productivity and retention, and is an investment in the state’s economic future

Bob Keener, 617-610-6766,, or 
Erin Musgrave, 530-864-7014,

Annapolis, February 21, 2019 — Maryland business leaders will provide testimony to the Senate Finance Committee at 1pm today, in support of gradually raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023.

Business groups, business owners and executives supporting the minimum wage increase say it will boost businesses, communities and the economy as workers have more money to spend. They stress that businesses will benefit from lower employee turnover, increased productivity and customer satisfaction, and say the gradual phase-in gives business owners time to plan for an increased wage floor.

“Raising the minimum wage is smart policy,” said Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “A rising minimum wage will boost sales as workers can afford to spend more money at local businesses. And nothing drives job creation more than consumer demand. Raising the minimum wage is a vital investment in Maryland’s workforce that will strengthen the economy and help businesses and communities thrive.”

Ned Atwater, owner of Atwater’s Traditional Food, with six locations across Baltimore, Catonsville and Towson, said, “Raising the minimum wage levels the playing field. When the minimum wage is too low, it’s harder for restaurants to pay a fair wage and still keep prices competitive. Menu prices should reflect fair wages, but it’s harder to do that on a voluntary individual basis, especially when you’re providing employee benefits like we do, while as taxpayers, we are subsidizing the low wages of competitors whose staff must rely heavily on the social safety net.”

Tim Cureton, owner of Rise Up Coffee Roasters with eight locations in St. Michael’s, Salisbury, Easton, Ocean City, Cambridge, Annapolis and Edgewater, said, “All our staff members make well above the current minimum wage. Including gratuity, all our staff members currently earn above the proposed 2023 minimum wage of $15 an hour. I’m proud to support raising the minimum wage because my business and employees have both benefited tremendously from paying and earning living wages.”

Michael Lastoria, co-founder and CEO of &pizza, which has locations in Hyattsville, Baltimore, Bethesda, North Bethesda, Gaithersburg and Germantown, said, “When you take care of your people, they take care of your customers, and your business thrives. As a result of fair wages, we’ve seen higher employee productivity and retention. Our employee morale has skyrocketed, and with it, our customer experience and our bottom line. Our employees have become our loudest brand ambassadors.”  

Gina Schaefer, owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, a group of 11 Ace Hardware stores in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, including Canton Ace Hardware, Federal Hill Ace Hardware and Waverly Ace Hardware in Baltimore and Old Takoma Ace Hardware in Takoma Park, said, “A Few Cool Hardware Stores is on track to pay $15 an hour by 2020 at all our locations; a plan we implemented three years ago. With D.C.’s minimum wage increases that are currently in progress, we’ve had lead time to gradually increase our starting wage and prepare for it. Similarly, phasing in Maryland’s increase over five years provides businesses time to implement a plan of their own.” 

Christopher Vigilante, owner of Vigilante’s Coffee Co., with locations in Hyattsville and College Park, said, “The cost of living in the area has far outpaced wages. When people working full-time can’t afford the basics, how can we expect them to stop by Vigilante’s for a cup of our award-winning joe? Raising the minimum wage helps businesses by putting more money in the hands of those most likely to spend it locally.”

Liz Richardson, co-owner of Indigo Ink in Columbia, said, “Paying a minimum wage of $15 an hour is excellent for business because it creates great company morale when workers feel valued. Employees are a huge asset to businesses, especially when they stick around long-term. When employees can afford their basic needs, they are more likely to provide better customer service.”

In addition to those testifying in person, many Business for a Fair Minimum Wage members from across the state also submitted written testimony supporting the increase.

These and other business owners are available for comment and/or broadcast booking. To schedule an interview, contact Bob Keener, 617-610-6766,, or Erin Musgrave, (530) 864-7014,


Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a national network of business owners and executives and business organizations that believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense.