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

CONTACT: Erin Musgrave, (530) 864-7014,

Annapolis, February 8, 2019— Maryland business owners will provide testimony before the House Economic Matters Committee today in support of gradually raising the state’s minimum wage to $15. 

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 four locations in Baltimore, one in Catonsville and one in Towson, winner of Baltimore Magazine’s 2015 Best of Baltimore award, 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.”

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.”  

“When some businesses pay so little their employees can’t make a living, it hurts everyone,” said Brian England, owner of B.A. Auto Care in Columbia, whose awards include MarylandSmall Business of the Year. “When a business doesn’t pay an adequate wage, workers struggle to keep a roof overhead and food on their table and turn to food banks, food stamps and other assistance. This is a very inefficient way to run an economy. Raising the minimum wage will raise working people up and away from the social safety net and level the playing field among businesses.”

“A raise for minimum wage workers is going to increase economic activity in Maryland and help galvanize new job creation to meet increased consumer demand,” said Denise Bowyer, Vice President of American Income Life and a resident of North Beach. “That is good for workers and good for business.”

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.” 

“Across our 35 years in business, we’ve learned that our people are one of our most important investments,” said Kit Wood, owner of Green Plate Catering in Wheaton. “Fair wages are central to keeping people growing with your business rather than a high-turnover model which costs you money and time. Paying fair wages is not only an investment in your people and the success of your business; it’s an investment in our communities.”

Business leaders are available for comment and/or broadcast bookings. To schedule an interview, contact 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.