NEWS from the National Council of Churches, USA
Contact NCC News Service: 212-870-2252  |  E-mail    |  Most Recent Stories   |  NCC Home

Business owners, CEOs say higher minimum wage good for business

Cleveland, Ohio, October 31, 2006 Business owners, executives and venture capitalists around the nation including the states where minimum wage is on the ballot Nov. 7 are calling for a higher minimum wage to pay workers fairly, boost business and strengthen the economy.

The statement released today calls for raising the wage floor above $5.15 an hour, noting, "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 1950s' wage floor."

"As a productivity adviser to major retailers, I've witnessed how inadequate wages can create a vicious cycle of high turnover and low productivity, which is bad for workers and businesses," says Paul Lightfoot, CEO of AL Systems Inc.

Inaugural signers include: Eileen Fisher, chief creative officer, women's apparel company Eileen Fisher; Arnold Hiatt, former CEO, Stride Rite; Robert Glassman, chair, Wainwright Bank; Deborah Nelson, executive director, Social Venture Network; Jeffrey Hollender, president, Seventh Generation, a leading brand of non-toxic household products; Peter Strugatz, CEO, IceStone; Jeff Milchen, co-founder, American Independent Business Alliance; Rink Dickinson, president, Equal Exchange, the nation's largest for-profit fair trade company; Peter Barnes, co-founder, Working Assets; Doug Hammond, president, Relief Resources and co-founder, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.

Signers from states with a minimum wage increase on the ballot include:

OHIO: Adnan Durrani, president of Condor Ventures and venture partner, Blue Chip Venture Capital, Cincinnati.

Mr. Darrani says, "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 especially brand loyalty from customers, thus contributing to higher returns for investors/ shareholders, employees and vendors."

ARIZONA: Rick Keefe, president of R-Galaxy, Tucson.

Mr. Keefe says, "Raising the minimum wage is vital because it enriches our entire community, by giving purchasing power to working people who deserve it for their hard day's work."

COLORADO: Marilyn Megenity, owner of the Mercury Cafe, Denver.

Ms. Megenity says, "Workers deserve a living wage to allow them to participate in the economy with dignity."

MISSOURI: Lew Prince, co-owner of Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis.

Mr. Prince comments, "To business owners I say, take a look at who walks in the door and see if putting an extra $200 a week in the pockets of 10 percent of them is good for your business."

MONTANA: Shalon Hastings, owner of Taco del Sol, Helena.

Ms. Hastings says, "We're overdue for a minimum wage increase. It's a sign of respect for our employees and the work they do for us as business owners."

"Investing in employees is the single most important investment that a company can make," says Brian Smith, managing partner of the Blackfoot River Brewing Company in Helena, Montana.

Arnold Hiatt, former CEO of Stride Rite, explains, "In order to create a better tomorrow, we've got to plan responsibly today. Increasing the minimum wage will help the United States create a future with a stable workforce and a strong economy."

The Business Owners and Executives for a Higher Minimum Wage statement appears below, along with inaugural signatories. Sign-ons are continuing through Let Justice Roll, a national partnership of more than 80 organizations working for a higher minimum wage, at Let Justice Roll was initiated by the National Council of Churches USA to seek economic justice for America's working poor and low wage workers.

Let Justice Roll contact: Betsy Leondar-Wright,, 781.648.0630, cell 781.704.4039 NCC News contact: The Rev. Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,


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 1950s' 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.


(* available to speak with the press)

Kathy Webb
Owner, Lilly's Dim Sum, Then Some
Little Rock, AR

Michael Alexander*
President, Conscious Consulting Inc.
Chair, Sedona Economic Development Task Force Sedona, AZ

Margarito Cordero
President, Durango Drywall
Phoenix, AZ

Rick Keefe*
President, R-Galaxy Inc.
Tucson, AZ

Trudy Mills
Co-Owner, Antigone Books
Tucson, AZ

Richard Shapiro*
Owner, Richard Shapiro LLC Accounting Firm
Scottsdale, AZ

Peter Barnes
Co-Founder & Former CEO, Working Assets
Point Reyes, CA

Anirvan Chatterjee
CEO, BookFinder.Com
Berkeley, CA

Bill Denham
Owner, Urban Harvest Design and Construction
Berkeley, CA

David S. Gast
Owner, David S. Gast & Associates, Architects
San Francisco, CA

Barry Hermanson
Former Owner, Hermanson's Employment Services
Berkeley, CA

Deborah Nelson
Executive Director, Social Venture Network
San Francisco, CA

Mal Warwick
Founder & Chairman, Mal Warwick Associates
Berkeley, CA

Robert (Andy) Bardwell
Owner, Bardwell Consulting
Denver, CO

Lalania Carrillo and Faatma Mehrmanesh
Co-Owners, Karma Cafe
Denver, CO

Linda Franklin
Owner, Sew Far Sew Good Tailors
Littleton, CO

Ron Gamino*
Owner, Gamino Printing Company
Denver, CO

Darold Killmer
, Lane and Newman LLP
Denver, CO

David Lichtenstein
Attorney at Law
Denver, CO

Thomas Marquez
Pyramid Print and Graphics
Denver, CO

Tim Marquez*
Owner, The Laughing Bean
Denver, CO

Marilyn Megenity*
Owner, Mercury Cafe
Denver, CO

Doug Naiman*
Owner, Aviano Coffee
Denver, CO

Dylan Norton
Co-Owner, Durango Doughworks
Durango, CO

Hugh Pixler
Law Offices of Hugh S. Pixler LLC
Denver, CO

Jerry Powell
Owner, Color Graphix
Denver, CO

Barry Roseman
and Kazmierski LLC
Denver, CO

Jenni Sonnen
Co-Owner, Tesoros LTD
Indian Hills, CO

Cherylin Vandergrist
K. Vandergrist LLC
Denver, CO

Stephen Jones Blessman
Investor and Member, Social Venture Network
Chicago, IL

Gary S. Best
President, Best Enterprises
Sharon, MA

Bill Densmore
Former Senior Vice President, Norton Company
Worcester, MA

Rink Dickinson
President, Equal Exchange
West Bridgewater, MA

Robert A. Glassman
Chairman, Wainwright Bank & Trust Co
Boston, MA

Steven Grossman
President, Grossman Marketing Group
Somerville, MA

Doug Hammond*
President, Relief Resources
Co-Founder, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
Hatfield, MA

Arnold Hiatt*
Chairman, Stride Rite Foundation
Former Chair & CEO, Stride Rite Corporation Weston, MA

Prakash Laufer
Former CEO, Motherwear Inc.
Member, Pioneer Valley Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
Northampton, MA

Kirsten Poole
Owner, Kirsten's Cafe
Silver Spring, MD

James F. X. Wellehan
President, Lamey-Wellehan Shoes
Auburn, ME

Michael Kitchen
Managing Partner, Waking Up (Sweat-Free Clothing)
Warren, MI

Michael J. Corgiat
President, Keystone Financial Services LLC St. Louis, MO

Lew Prince*
Co-Owner, Vintage Vinyl
Member, BUILD St. Louis
St. Louis, MO

David W. Scott and Aimee L. Sanita*
Owners, Circle Tax and Accounting Inc.
Kansas City, MO

John Scott*
Owner, John Scott Fitness
Kansas City, MO

Linda Spitzer
President, IMS-Information Management Solutions Inc.
St. Louis, MO

Dayna Baumeister
Keystone, Biomicry Guild LLC
Helena, MT

Shalon Hastings*
Owner, Taco del Sol
Helena, MT

Jeff Milchen
Co-Founder, American Independent Business Alliance
Bozeman, MT

Brian Smith*

Managing Partner, Blackfoot River Brewing Company
Helena, MT

Jane and Donald Gilbert
Owners, Gilbert Farm
Leland, NC

David Kirkpatrick
Founder & Managing Director,
SJF Ventures National 2005 Practitioner of the Year,
Community Development Venture Capital Alliance
Durham, NC

Don Reeves
Farm Owner & Policy Consultant
Central City, NE

Charles Henderson
President, Chuck Roast Equipment
Conway, NH

Paul Lightfoot*
President & CEO, AL Systems Inc.
Rockaway, NJ

Dr. Elizabeth A. Letzler
Baldwin, NY

Martin Rothenberg
Owner and President, Glottal Enterprises
Syracuse, NY

Peter Strugatz*
CEO, IceStone LLC
Brooklyn, NY

Adnan Durrani*
President, Condor Ventures Inc,
Stamford, CT

Venture Partner,
Blue Chip Venture Capital (BCVC)
Cincinnati, OH

Warner Mendenhall
Owner, The Law Offices of Warner Mendenhall
Akron, OH

Joe Mosyjowski
Owner, Mosyjowski & Associates Engineers
Hartville, OH

Susan Nelson
Principal, Improvement Works, LLC
Cleveland, OH

Bishop Stephen A. Scott*
CEO, Dr. J.W. Jones Center for Training and Inner-City Development
Cincinnati, OH

Steve Hanrahan
Owner, Mirador Community Store
Portland, OR

Phyllis Combs
Owner, Farm Fortune Bed & Breakfast
New Cumberland, PA

Danielle Liddic
New Choices/New Options Project Facilitator,
West Branch Technology Center
Lock Haven, PA

Judy Wicks
President, White Dog Cafe
Philadelphia, PA

Gwendolyn Young-El
Program Manager, Mental Health Association of South Eastern Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

Jeffrey Hollender*
President, Seventh Generation
Burlington, VT




Return to NCC Home Page