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Business leaders express relief that harmful regional minimum wages were not mandated in the final legislation raising Virginia’s minimum wage

Contact: Erin Musgrave

March 8, 2020, Richmond, Va.— Business leaders welcomed the Virginia General Assembly passing legislation to raise the minimum wage statewide to $12 by 2023 with a path to $15 by 2026. Raising the minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009, will increase the consumer buying power businesses need to thrive and strengthen Virginia’s workforce and economy.

“We look forward to the boost in consumer spending businesses will start to see next year as the minimum wage begins increasing,” said Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “And businesses raising their own entry wages can expect a decrease in costly employee turnover and an increase in productivity and customer satisfaction. We strongly support Virginia continuing to increase the minimum wage to $15 statewide and not adopting inequitable regional minimum wages that would be devastating to small businesses in lower-income areas with lower minimum wages.”

Fortunately, the compromise final bill did not mandate the harmful regional approach passed in February by the Senate and strongly opposed by Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, which analyzed the negative impacts of regionalism in a report. The bill did, however, stipulate a study beginning in 2022 to evaluate the feasibility of instituting a regional minimum wage. The minimum wage will increase statewide to $9.50 on Jan. 1, 2021, $11 on Jan. 1, 2022 and $12 from Jan. 1, 2023 until Jan. 1, 2025. It will increase again to $13.50 on Jan. 1, 2025 and to $15 on Jan. 1, 2026 if the General Assembly votes to reenact those increases prior to July 1, 2024. If not, the minimum wage would be adjusted for annual cost of living increases.

Business owners spoke about the positive impact of a statewide minimum wage increase on their businesses and the economy:

D. Starr Robins, owner of Bella DaVinci Beauty in Norfolk: “As a military veteran and business owner, I believe everyone should be able to afford a little self-care. Unfortunately, I know that under the current minimum wage, many Virginians struggle to pay their bills to keep a roof overhead and food on the table even when they work full time. Raising the state minimum wage will not only improve quality of life for our community, it will provide a critical consumer spending boost for small businesses like mine.”

Ward Tefft, owner of Chop Suey Books in Richmond, said, “There is simply no more direct and rapid way to boost consumer spending and strengthen Virginia’s business environment than to raise the minimum wage statewide. When working people have more buying power, it increases sales at local businesses and relieves strain on social services from inadequate wages.”

Victoria McKoy, owner of Glamystique Hair Studio in Norfolk, said, “My business isn’t just a bottom-line operation, it’s my community. And like my business, my community could use the economic boost that would come from raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Under a regional approach, Norfolk could get half the minimum wage increase as Northern Virginia. What an insult – people aren’t putting in half the work. That’s why I strongly support raising the minimum wage to $15 statewide.”

Alex Zavaleta, co-owner of Charm School Social Club, an ice cream shop in Richmond, said, “As someone who owns a low-ticket business, I'm looking forward to the minimum wage increasing in Richmond and across the state so more customers have more money in their pockets. We start people well above minimum wage and it shows in our low turnover and efficiency and in the quality of our ice cream.”

To speak with business owners and executives who support raising the minimum wage, please contact Erin Musgrave at or (530) 864-7014.


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