Hundreds of Business Owners Go Public with Support for Amendment 70, the Minimum Wage Increase


The owner of Illegal Pete’s, a Colorado-based restaurant chain with 8 stores, reports that after raising wages, employee turnover dropped markedly. The owner credits his employees with making his business one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the country.

Business owners across the state are lining up to support Amendment 70, which would raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12.00 and hour by 2020. Many of these owners voluntarily raised their own employees’ wages and are telling the public about the impacts it has had on their businesses.

They report positive economic results that directly contradict the predictions advanced by groups opposing the measure, like the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

Here is what owners of Colorado businesses large and small have to say about their experiences after voluntarily raising employees’ wages:

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.”


Judy Amabile, Owner of Polar Bottle and member of the Board of Directors, Boulder Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed Amendment 70:

“Raising our entry pay from $8 to $12 an hour has been great for our bottom line. Our employees are more productive. They can afford things important for them and our business like repairing their cars and securing more reliable child care. Turnover decreased dramatically. They value their jobs more. In fact, our per unit labor costs actually went down. As our experience in a highly competitive industry shows: Raising the minimum wage is good for business.”


Pete Turner, Founder of Illegal Pete’s restaurant chain 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.”


Mike Hartkop, Owner of Solar Roast Coffee, Pueblo Small Business of the Year 2016:

“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.”


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.”

The Ore House, Durango

The Ore House, Durango

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.”

Richard Carpenter, CEO of UltraSteam Cleaning in Durango:

“We’ve always paid well above minimum wage, as do many small businesses I know, because we need to attract and retain the best employees we can. And it pays off— we save money in the long run, have nearly zero turnover and some of the best customer service around. If everyone paid fair wages, it would level the playing field for small businesses that are being undercut on labor costs and strengthen the economy for everyone.”

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.

Sticky Fingers, a company that teaches young kids to cook, expanded into three states after raising their minimum wage to $15/hour

Sticky Fingers cooking, a company that teaches young kids to cook, expanded into three states after raising their minimum wage to $15/hour

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.”

Sarah Marcogliese, Owner of Native Earth Landscape in Lakewood:

“Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do for employees, businesses and the economy. When businesses pay fair wages, employees have more money to spend at other local businesses like mine. And I know from experience that paying higher wages creates happier workers who stay with us for the long haul. That’s why I’m able to offer superior customer service, which has enabled me to continue growing and hiring. Raising the minimum wage throughout the state will enable Colorado’s businesses and economy to grow and thrive.”

Edwin Zoe, Founder of Zoe Ma Ma Restaurant in Denver and Boulder:

“Raising the minimum wage is good business and good government. The current minimum wage is not enough to make ends meet so workers turn to government assistance. When we raise the minimum wage taxpayers can stop subsidizing businesses that pay poverty wages. Workers put their wages right back into the local economy, which strengthens businesses and the community, and what’s more, raising the minimum wage will level the playing field for the countless businesses that already pay fair wages.”


Carlos Alvarez-Aranyos, Founder of Boulder Transport in Boulder:

“Paying people well is about endowing their humanity — allowing them to exist comfortably and to dedicate themselves with equal passion to their jobs and their lives. I have no idea why any business owner would underpay an employee. After all, small businesses are only remarkable if their employees are remarkable, and that’s almost impossible for anyone if they’re constantly worried about money. For my business, the rewards of paying people fairly have far outweighed the costs, both in terms of performance and loyalty. And there’s no greater satisfaction than knowing I am doing everything I can to empower my employees and their families to live amazing lives. I stand with the effort to raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 by 2020. It won’t just make our businesses stronger — it will also make our state an even better place to live.”

Some western slope business owners who support Amendment 70 include:

  • Bruce Benge, Owner, Benge’s Shoes
  • Barbara Roberts, Co-owner of Five 60 Salon on Main Street
  • Liz Sinclair, Owner, Charlie Dwellington’s
  • Juries Brammeier, Bright Star Strategies, LLC
  • Imelda Mulholland, Attorney
  • Kate Lineman, Owner, Honeybee LLC (Paonia)
  • Jo R. Jones, DVM, Owner, Randolph Equine Veterinary Services (Carbondale)
  • Amy Ginn, CEO, Southwest Midwives, Inc. (Durango)
  • Dustin Partridge, owner, Zuma Natural Foods (Mancos)
  • Ryan Lowe, Owner/Executive Chef, Ore House (Durango)
  • Lee Lanzen, Owner, Performance Sports (Durango)
  • Mary Oswald, Owner, San Juan Hand Therapy (Durango)
  • Lucas Price, Owner, La Cocina de Luz (Telluride)
  • Laurie Raymond, Owner High Tails Dog & Cat Outfitters, Inc. (Glenwood Springs)
  • Eamon Alger, Impeccable Paint (Placerville)

To talk to a business owner who has raised their wages with good results, contact Erin Musgrave at, 530-864-7014

  2 comments for “Hundreds of Business Owners Go Public with Support for Amendment 70, the Minimum Wage Increase

  1. If the Chamber of Commerce has ANY common sense at all, they need to re-think their strategic long term plan supporting slave wages and justification thereof.
    Like our county, the GJCC desperately needs totally new leadership. Business as usual has seized like poorly greased bearings. The world needs alternative energy leadership, alternative business leadership, alternative business culture that puts Earth’s living systems and inhabitants first. The United States once upon a time… We can do it again. The old, staid and selfish….move aside for our new paradigm.
    Thanks Ann for keeping us informed.

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