Area small businesses weigh in on minimum wage increase - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Area small businesses weigh in on minimum wage increase

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Danny Perry with Rivertech Heating and Air does a maintenance check on an A/C unit in East Brainerd.

Rico LoPrinzo runs the company and his employees make well over minimum wage.

He says the proposed $9.00 per hour by President Obama shouldn't be a question of why, but when.

"Nine bucks an hour is not too much to ask of an employer," LoPrinzo says. "I would be embarrassed to pay my guys less than that."

Some fear a wage increase would cut in to already tight budgets.

LoPrinzo, like hundreds of small businesses in this area, have already fought against the first quarter sales blues many face this time of year.

The National Federation of Independent Business says small-business optimism index edged up just 0.9 points to 88.9 last month from 88 points in December 2012 after the fiscal cliff fiasco.

LoPrinzo saw an increase in employee taxes and is waiting to see how "Obamacare" will hit next.

Mike Skiles of Suck Creek Bike shop paid close attention to the address Tuesday night and says the minimum wage hike wouldn't hit his bottom line.

This is actually the peak sales seasons.

"It hasn't gone very flat for the first quarter or the first month, no. From what I see, it seems like many small businesses are concerned about the policies that come down from Washington."

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce surveyed 55 small businesses in our area and say 60-percent plan on expanding in the coming years.

J. Ed Marston says, "It would be about 500 additional jobs. That gives you the idea of how powerful small business is to our economy."

The proposal would see hourly wages reach $9 by the end of 2015.

That would affect about 15 million workers.

The increase would be the highest in more than three decades.


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