Northland businesses react to President's call for minimum wage raise

By KBJR News 1

January 29, 2014 Updated Jan 29, 2014 at 7:12 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) ---President Obama's speech last night touched on a lot of different subjects, but one that he spoke extensively about was the minimum wage.
He suggested a federal minimum wage of 10 dollars-10 cents.

The president had much to say about the minimum wage in his State of the Union speech.

"Today, the federal minimum wage is worth about 20% less than it was when Ronald Raegan first stood here." Said President Obama.

He suggested that businesses should raise their minimum wage to 10 dollars-10 cents an hour and that he would be support any bill that did that.
"It'll give business' customers with more money to spend; it does not involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country, say yes. Give America a raise." Said President Obama

But some smaller businesses say they would not be able to stay afloat if they all of a sudden had to raise the wage. In fact, some business owners feel the current minimum wage is good for workers just getting their start.

"That eight dollar an hour might be a good starting point and then they can work up to the 10 or 12 or 15 dollar an hour... jobs that are more professional, more full time." Said Art In The Alley Owner, Dan Edmunds.

If you were to ask Eric Faust, the owner of Duluth Coffee Company, he'd tell you that the president's remarks are a challenge.

"It's a bold thing for a president to say. I don't take offense to it. I see it as more of a challenge. It's a direction from our commander-in-chief telling me that I need to grow my business." Said Faust.

Eric says he typically does pay above minimum wage, and even above 10 dollars for seasoned workers. He points to the philosophy of his business to explain why.

"The whole movement of fair trade and direct trade and paying farmers a reasonable wage has definitely influenced our belief in paying the people here in America who are selling cups of coffee at a premium, to pay those people better." Said Faust.

Many other business leaders with whom we talked shared the opinion that a hike to 10 dollars would make it very difficult to keep their businesses running.

Bryce Henry