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Business Owners Rally for Minimum Wage Ballot Measure

Over 200 business leaders signed, including the founder of Illegal Pete's, Pete Turner

Magellan Strategies

As November 8 approaches, the ads multiply and so do the mailers and volume of the advocacy. A group called Colorado Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is urging Colorado citizens to vote in favor of Amendment 70 to raise the minimum wage from the current  $8.31. The increase would first go to $9.30 on January 1, 2017. After that, each year, it would go up by 90 cents until it reaches $12 in January 2020.

The group submitted the support of over 200 business leaders throughout Colorado who say raising the minimum wage is good for business, customers and the local economy. Among them are leaders of the food and restaurant business from the small to the really big. Some of their statements are below.

Pete Turner, Founder of Illegal Pete's multiple locations in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins: "When we increased entry wages at our restaurants last year from $9 to $10.50 an hour, we did not raise prices. Our employee turnover dropped to 29 percent - which is very low for our industry - and we saved money in hiring and training costs. Our employees are a big reason we're one of the nation's fastest growing companies. Raising Colorado's minimum wage will put more money in workers' pockets, which they'll spend at restaurants and other businesses around our state."

Bill Phelps, Co-Founder and CEO of Wetzel's Pretzels: "We've experienced strong sales growth after minimum wage increases. The increased cash circulating in the economy goes a long way in offsetting the higher hourly minimum. And businesses see other offsets as well, such as reduced employee turnover and increased productivity. Raising the minimum wage is good for our bottom line."

Richard Skorman, Owner of Poor Richard's Restaurant, Rico's Café & Wine Bar, Poor Richard's Books & Gifts and Little Richard's Toy Store in Colorado Springs: "We raised our entry pay, and the doom and gloom scenario bandied about by those opposed to raising the minimum wage never happened. In fact, the opposite occurred - profits rose and labor costs actually decreased because employees stay with us much longer now. The longer they stay, the better they are at their jobs, and the money we save on training new employees is huge. Most important, our staff is happier. And happy employees mean more regular customers, which is the key to our success and that of most small businesses."

Mike Hartkop, Owner of Solar Roast Coffee: "When you pay people a livable wage they become better consumers and much happier employees. When we raised our starting pay to $10, plus tips, our turnover dropped in half. Our employees provide excellent customer service and keep my customers coming back. If we raise the minimum wage and all businesses pay livable wages, I'll sell more and so will other businesses. Better consumers, happier employees - that's definitely a win-win. Our goal is to hit $15 by 2020. Certainly, $12 by 2020 is a reasonable minimum wage for businesses statewide."

Ryan Lowe, Owner and Executive Chef of Ore House in Durango:
"We pay our staff well above the current minimum wage because we want a well-supported, productive staff that ensures our customers come back again and again. If all businesses paid fair wages it would help level the playing field for businesses like ours."

Erin Fletter, Owner of Sticky Fingers Cooking in Denver
"At Sticky Fingers Cooking, we pay a minimum of $15 per hour, and our amazing employees are our No. 1 asset. Since our founding in Colorado in 2010, we have expanded to three other states and we have no problem finding and hiring qualified staff to teach and lead our cooking programs. This is, in part, due to the fact that we pay well for jobs well done."

For a complete list of signers, visit the organization's website.